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Valley Beach owner says there are exceptions to 'family' membership

Joe Centers • May 15, 2014 at 10:13 PM

As expected, a story in Monday's Norwalk Reflector about Valley Beach Park denying a gay couple a family membership is making waves.

Brad Maitland, who owns the club with his wife, Kris, said the club is not keeping anybody out, but stressed it is all about the family.

"After checking their Facebook, these guys have only been dating two weeks," Maitland said. "They just met. They told us they were a couple."

Jeffrey Taylor refutes that, however.

“We have not been dating two weeks,” Taylor said of his partner, Daniel Story. “We put it on Facebook two weeks ago. That does not make it official.

“We have been seeing each other for over a year. Our families have known each other since the ’80s. We were concerned about the children. ... We wanted to wait before we made it official.”

On Sunday, Kris Maitland said "A family is considered a husband, wife and up to three children."

On Tuesday, Brad Maitland said there are exceptions to that rule.

"A family membership has to be a man and woman living together in the traditional family sense," he said. "Not just a couple that has been dating a couple of months. This is a private club. There are many clubs out there with stipulations to join that club.

"I am not anti-gay. I just believe in the traditional sense of the family. These guys were not denied . ... Just not as a married couple. These guys just met. Just because they are living together they will not get a family membership."

Maitland said when people join they do "Facebook checking" and it is up to them whether or not to give them a family membership.

Taylor and Story, were denied a family membership even though they have two children.

"These guys were not denied," Maitland said. "We do have gay members. I do not think there is anything wrong with that.

"Usually once or twice a year there are people upset about that (rules about family memberships), but they don't go boo-hoo.

"I am just not going to sell a family membership to them at this point. We do sell family memberships to unmarried couples who have been living in the family sense. We do have gay members, but we do not sell them a family pass. The family pass is at our discretion. I am not doing it for same-sex couples.

"It is a club with our own rules. If they don't like our rules they can go somewhere else."

Valley Beach Park was started in 1965 by Don and Elva Bauer, Brad's grandparents. This is the park's 50th summer.

Maitland said preparations are being made for the May 24 opening.

"She's filling," he said about the pool. "We are getting ready."

* * *

Norwalk rec center also makes exceptions

Like Valley Beach Park, Norwalk Park & Recreation Superintendent Joe Lindenberger said he does make exceptions to what is considered a "family" when it comes to buying passes.

By definition, a family is a "husband and wife, children under 18 and full-time college students," Lindenberger said.

"We have been in process of evaluating our memerships and what we want to do with it," he said. "Some are strict like ours and some aren't as strict. We are talking to the mayor and park board to see if we want to make any changes."

A family pass at the Rec Center is $325 per year, which includes everything except racquetball and specialty classes, Lindenberger said.

"We have made exceptions in the past, and that falls on me," he said. "That is why we are looking at our rules. We want to be fair across the board."

Lindenberger said if an unmarried couple is living like a family, and they have proof, he will make exceptions.

"It's a tough situation. I am open-minded and we will evaluate the culture. We want to be all-inclusive and welcome everybody.

"This conversation started a month or two ago."

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