This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune
Two entrepreneurs have helped save the historic Nile Swim Club from drowning.
Delaware County natives Sam Patterson and Mike Pearson have pledged a donation of $130,000, which will allow the club to pay off its back taxes, improve its facilities and develop a long-term financial plan.
“It’s wonderful, we’re very, very proud and we’re very, very grateful,” said Anthony Patterson, vice president of the swim club’s board of directors. “The board is very grateful for their donation and their assistance for saving the Nile and bringing it back to its glory.”
Pearson said he and Patterson got together to help because they know “the road ahead is going to be difficult and we should be working together as a community to make sure it has a vibrant and healthy future.”
The two Delco natives grew up near the swim club.
“It was iconic to me, as well as others growing up because it was the first to be a Black-owned anything,” said Pearson, who is now the president and CEO of Union Packaging, LLC. “It was the epicenter for a lot of the socializing for the folks in our neighborhood.”
Sam Patterson, chairman and CEO of TreCom Systems Group, Inc., said he got his first job at the swim club.
The Nile, located at 513 S. Union Ave., became the first African-American owned and operated swim club in the nation when it opened its gates in 1959. At the time, Yeadon’s Black families were denied membership to the white swim club in the borough.
Financial troubles have dogged the nonprofit during the past decade. The pool filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010 and again in 2016.
The swim club was faced with a $270,000 bill for back taxes and a delinquent tax sale by the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau in September. The club’s board renegotiated its debt, got officials to reduce the penalties and interest on its debt, and went on a payment plan. The swim club also launched a fundraising campaign in September, with the goal of raising $1 million.
The Nile already has paid close to about $125,000 in back taxes and is now looking to pay off the balance, Anthony Patterson said. The swim club owes about $75,000 to the William Penn School District.
The Nile’s board of directors also plans to challenge the swim club’s 2019 tax assessment in order to reduce its approximate $32,000 annual tax bill, swim club board president Christopher Sample told the Tribune in December. The board recently paid for a private appraisal of the property.
The swim club was assessed at $233,290, and the parking lot at $118,160, according to county tax records.