Friends of the Pools was formed for the purpose of protecting the structural, cultural and historic integrity of the Warm Springs Pools in Bath County, Virginia — the oldest spa structures in the United States.
Lao Tzu said “Silence is a source of great strength.” Well, if he was right, the Friends of the Pools has gained a lot of strength since June, when you last heard anything from us.
It has been more than five months since we sent our letter to Michael Deitemeyer, President of Omni Hotels & Resorts. While we have had no reply to our letter, we did not expect an immediate reply. Omni is a large corporation with many moving pieces and it was buying The Homestead and four other major resort properties from KSL all in one package. We knew that they would need time to get their feet on the ground–or maybe “dip their toes in the water” is a better expression.
Living in Bath County means that you hear things at the gym or at the Valley supermarket. The word on the street is that Omni plans to “fix up the Pools.” Of course, that is great news. After 20 months of frustrating negotiations with KSL, we are looking forward to working with representatives of Omni.
Several members of our Board and other “Friends of the Pools” were at The Homestead for an event on Saturday and we had the opportunity to meet the new manager, David Jurcak. He is an 18-year member of the Omni team and he comes to The Homestead from his most recent position as General Manager at the Interlocken Resort and Spa in Colorado. He told us that he had made certain to visit the Pools earlier that day to see them prior to coming to the event, since he knew that many “Friends” would be in attendance. We need to give him time to settle in and then we will continue our conversations with him about how we can best help Omni save and restore the Bath Houses.
In the interim, we are still on hold with the IRS. Our original application for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status was shaped by the plans we had begun to develop with KSL. The application, in the name of “Preservation Bath,” focused specifically on the Pools and involved our taking ownership of the property. The IRS raised many questions about the plans and kicked our application back twice for further explanation.
We are grateful to the IRS (how often have you ever heard anyone say that?) for providing us with more time. The agent handling our application has been very cooperative and even gave us his cell phone number so that we could reach him directly with questions. We now have until the end of this month to resubmit our application.
Our plan, given the Omni’s apparent intention to do the job themselves, is to now refashion our application to the goals of a broader-focused Preservation Bath. We will address this in a future Update Report, once we know if our amended application is approved by the IRS. But, in the meantime, if you look at the website of Preservation Piedmont, you will have some idea of the direction in which we intend to move forward.