The Village Sports Club in the Pinehills development exposes members to a full menu of fitness options — basketball, pickleball, tennis, swimming, yoga and weight training.
It also has exposed them to an array of potentially unsafe conditions such as mildew, rust, cracks in the shower, peeling paint, and debris in the pool, according to the Plymouth Public Health Department.
In late December, health inspectors visited the facility — where adult membership fees are $90 a month — documenting 10 violations that were ordered to be fixed within either seven or 30 days, depending on the seriousness of the violation. The pool could be closed by the town if the violations persist, said Plymouth health director Karen Keane.
The town also issued “strong recommendations” that the club scrub the pool surface to eliminate discoloration and implement maintenance plans that include daily cleaning of the pool deck and locker rooms.
Inspectors have not yet returned to the club, Keane said last week.
“I don’t think it’s too bad,” said owner Michael Colomba, referring to the inspection report. “We have 40,000-square-foot building with nine bathrooms and they inspected everything.”
Colomba, who bought the club in 2022, said he has spent nearly $1 million improving the club, including by repainting, repairing, and investing in state-of-the-art cleaning equipment.
He also said what might have looked like dirt was discoloration that can’t be removed by cleaning.
“We’ve turned this place around substantially from the condition in which we bought it,” Colomba said during a tour of the club, “and we’re still a work in progress. I’ve owned it for only 18 months and we expect over the next six months to get to the point where we want to be.”
Club manager Tim Hajjar said the club has already remedied some of the violations and has invited inspectors to return. He suggested that a pool at another fitness club in town was in worse shape, but inspectors who visited it last week found no issues.
The VSC management team has done such a good job upgrading the club, it said, that membership has skyrocketed from 250 to almost 600.
One person who is not a member is Christine Spalding. She’s the person who contacted the board of health. The day the health inspectors visited the club, Spalding’s membership was revoked.
Spalding joined the club in September a month after she moved to Plymouth.
She loved the aquafit classes and the club members she met.
Spalding said she reached out to Colomba “after a month of swimming in a disgusting pool, trying to get cleaned up in an unsanitary locker room, burning hands on a metal handle in the sauna, dealing with used Band-Aids floating in and around the pool, coping with trash on the pool apron.”
On Oct. 23, she sent him an email “on behalf of the 30+” participants in her swim class.
“We are very concerned about the safety and cleanliness of the swimming pools, the ladies’ locker room and the sauna,” she wrote.
“The swimming pool is absolutely filthy. The bottom of the pool is not only unsightly, the blue lane tiles are slimy and dangerously slippery. The water is terribly cloudy and there are objects like hair, dental floss, dirt flecks and rust floating in it.”
Colomba thanked Spalding “for bringing these concerns to my attention. We are continuing to make improvements and our goal is to reach perfection.”
But after two months of what she called “inaction,” Spalding went to the health department, armed with photos and a list of concerns.
A week later, on Dec. 27, the health inspectors visited the club and documented their concerns.
A few hours later, Spalding received an email from Hajjar.
“In as much as you have voiced disappointment and have clearly articulated you not being satisfied with the operation of Village Sports Club, I am making the difficult decision to terminate your relationship with VSC,” it read.
“I thank you for the thoughts and consideration. But at this time I feel it is best that we part ways. I wish that all of your future health facilities and fitness needs are met to your satisfaction” he wrote.
Colomba and Hajjar said Spalding was the only member who complained about conditions at the club.
“I’m not in the business of canceling memberships,” said Colomba. “But I said to her, ‘I don’t think we can meet your standards. I said I really hope you find a place that meets all of your expectations. We’re still a work in progress.’”
Spalding said many other members were afraid to speak out because they live in the Pinehills, enjoy swimming, and don’t want to drive any distance to another indoor pool.
One other member, who asked not to be identified because she doesn’t want to lose her membership, called “the state of the pool… disheartening.”
“The water is consistently murky,” she wrote in an email, “and the presence of sand and dirt indicates a lack of regular, thorough cleaning. The pool’s sides are stained and filled with personal refuse like chewed gum and Band-Aids. This is not just unappealing but raises significant health concerns.”
In December, a group of members dropped off an anonymous letter at the Pinehills’ LLC offices.
In it, they requested a “gracious intervention” by the Pinehills board to “ensure an environment that is in keeping with the high standards, aesthetics and sense of community that The Pinehills is known for. We have spoken to the VSC staff and other members of our class have communicated directly with the owner. Unfortunately, those relayed concerns have not been addressed adequately.”
Pinehills officials, who issued a glowing press release in July 2022 touting the “new & improved” facility under Colomba’s ownership, said it is privately owned and its management and operation are the responsibility of the owners.
Colomba and his team have been a “positive addition” to the Pinehills Village Green, wrote Pinehills president Deborah Sedares in a Jan. 12 email.
Andrea Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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