As a residential community, Nether Providence has a lot of community groups ranging from the Nether Providence Athletics Association to Wallingford Swarthmore Community Classes to the Boy and Girl Scouts and on and on. All of these community groups need places to meet now that groups are starting to meet in person again, and that’s a challenge. I looked into places to meet and reached out to several groups to find out more.
The most affordable option is the Swarthmore and Nether Providence municipal halls. The Swarthmore boro manager hasn’t gotten back to me about the use policy for their space, but both are generally available for resident’s use at low or no cost. The challenge for both is that they have limited spaces and times available – Nether Providence has its meeting hall upstairs, but that’s in use most evenings for township business so finding time can be a challenge. Swarthmore’s township building is likewise busy. I couldn’t find anything on the web about the specific policies for using either space, so I think you have to contact the township or borough to arrange using it.
The best option for many of the groups I’ve been in is the Furness Library. The library’s always been an accommodating host and has two nice meeting spaces – a smaller room upstairs and a large room downstairs. Details are clearly available on their website and the space is easy to book. The cost is also reasonable, $10 for non-profits to use the upstairs room and $20 for the larger downstairs room. The main drawback is the library’s limited hours – closing at 7 pm Monday and Tuesday, 5 pm Wed-Sat and not open at all on Sundays.
The school district has the best range of spaces available from meeting rooms to auditoriums to sports fields, but has always been hard to work with and by accounts I’ve heard from groups like NPAA and the WSCC it’s becoming even harder to work with. The board last month took up a policy that will lead to further uncertainty about pricing for its spaces. I contacted the district and they replied quickly with the current policies and fees though these may be changing. The current use policy is 707 and the current fee schedule is here. One of the problems with the school district is this line at the bottom: “The fees shown here are in addition to the $25 application fee and any overtime charges for custodial or other staff costs.” So although the rates seem reasonable initially, once an application fee and other costs are added it can be unaffordable for many smaller community groups.
A newer option is the Park Avenue Community Center in Swarthmore, which is a continuation of the old Swarthmore Community Center which closed when the college took back the property they had been using. PACC does not have specifics about using its spaces available on its website. I contacted them and they got back to me quickly. Space use is decided on a case by case basis but the meeting space fees they quoted me for a small meeting are $35/hour or $25/hour for a non-profit, but if a group meets regularly they can come to other arrangements. There’s a $50 fee for cleaning or setup if food or A/V systems are involved, and as can be seen on the website, they have spaces for larger events as well.
Wallingford Presbyterian is the only religious organization in Nether Providence I could find with a clear guide for rentals publicly available. The prices are well within reach for a community group, but it is subject to approval by the church so that can limit access for some groups. Ohev Shalom’s website says they do rentals – and they do have very nice spaces – but there’s no details on the website. Over in Swarthmore, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church has a rentals page, but the pricing link doesn’t seem to work currently.
In the past I have scheduled meetings at South Media Fire Company, but when I contacted them they told me they don’t rent out their space anymore. They have a nice room for meetings, but because the fire halls aren’t staffed usually and volunteers have to maintain the space, its hard for them to do regular rentals. The Garden City Fire Company has a hall they rent out, but its priced and set up more for one-off events than regular meetings. Their website has a contact number (the contact form on the website doesn’t seem to work currently).
The swim clubs rent out their pools during the season for outdoor events. Creekside has their pricing structure on their website. Wallingford Swim Club doesn’t have pricing available on the website, but it does say their pools are available for rental to members.
For bigger events, there are a number of options nearby. Swarthmore College is enormous and has all kinds of spaces, but availability is very limited and their system seems more designed for larger organizations than smaller community groups. The Wallingford Community Arts Center is a nice location, but it also seems to be oriented more towards events than community group meetings. Pendle Hill is another interesting location nearby that seems oriented towards hosting conferences. Springhaven Club hosts a number of regular events throughout the year – I just got an email that the League of Women Voters is throwing their annual event there again. But it’s also oriented towards bigger events than regular community group meetings. One last location is the Old Mill in Rose Valley, which is the only one of these larger spaces that quotes pricing online.
Space for community groups is something to consider in the township’s upcoming strategic plan. There are plenty of large event spaces, but few low-cost spaces for smaller, regular meetings on this side of the Crum. The township halls are usually in use, the library closes early in the evening, the school district is increasingly hostile to external groups and the volunteer fire companies don’t staff their buildings regularly. Swarthmore and Media – which combined are smaller than Nether Providence – each have more spaces available for resident’s use.