Bridgewater College Decides Not to Renew Contract With Town

Town Creates New Program to Help Students Enjoy Facilities


Samantha Hince

Student Life plans to host programming in coordination with town facilities, such as theme skate nights at the Generations Park skating rink, according to Assistant Dean of Students Whitney Smith.

Samantha Hince and Sienna Sullivan

Bridgewater, Va. – Bridgewater College students received an email Monday morning informing them of the college’s decision to not renew the Parks & Recreation contract with the Town of Bridgewater.

The contract had previously allowed students to use the town’s Parks & Recreation facilities for free, using their BC ID cards. These facilities included mini-golf, par-3, ice skating, the indoor tennis center and the Sipe Center.

The school “reached an impasse in our conversations with the town in trying to align student usage with the costs we are charged by the town,” said Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students Leslie Frere, in the email sent on Monday. 

“It just wasn’t the best use of that money for student services,” said Assistant Dean of Students Whitney Smith. “We didn’t want to continue to pay for times when students weren’t here using the facilities but yet we were being charged for.”

“We have a fairly simple operation and we don’t have a ready way to keep track of how many students use our facilities,” said Town Manager Jay Litten. “Ultimately, they had an overriding need for that data, and we had an overriding need to keep a simple program very simple.” 

“I was obviously pretty upset because myself and many of my friends, as well as other students on this campus, use the mini-golf and ice skating consistently on a somewhat regular basis, and it was pretty upsetting to hear the school interpreting it as this service not being worth our tuition money,” said senior Dan Hancock.

Hancock emailed Litten to ask if anything could be done. 

“He was really nice about it actually,” said Hancock. “He made sure to emphasize that he respected the school’s decision, but he also seemed super interested in getting the services that all the students love back to us.”

The town is now offering the BREC4BC program, where students can pay $10 for a B-Rec card, which will allow them unlimited access to mini-golf, par-3, ice skating, and tennis. 

“We simply looked at the situation and decided that maybe we had another way to offer the service without unduly taxing our taxpayers,” said Litten. “And hopefully this will work out real well for everybody: for the college as an entity, for the town, and for the students.” 

Sandy Bottom Park
The contract between Bridgewater College and the Town of Bridgewater, which began in 2017 and has allowed students to use facilities such as Sandy Bottom Park mini-golf and par-3 for free, ended this week. (Samantha HInce)

“The new deal is definitely amazing and something that I would encourage everyone to seek out and support the community for,” said Hancock.

The school’s decision also affects the tennis teams, which use the indoor Doug Will Tennis Center for practice during inclement weather. Although the team will still be able to use the courts for practice, players who want to use the courts on an individual basis may need to purchase a B-Rec card. 

“People were definitely a little upset,” said sophomore tennis player Ryan Roeber. “It’s kind of a little sting. It’s a big deal to have access to indoor courts and it affects how much we are able to practice.”

“I also think that for sports teams it was a good selling point to say ‘hey we have these free opportunities where you can go play putt-putt or you can go ice skating or you can go to the Sipe Center on Friday nights,’” said senior swimmer Ben Dillon. “Those are things that allow us as athletes to talk to our recruits and tell them that we have these opportunities that are free and that puts us up over other schools and allows us to pull in more people.”