2003-02-15 / Front Page

Weiner: Riis Pool Would Drown In Red Ink

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

For more years than many of us care to remember, an Olympic-style swimming pool at Riis Park has been a peninsula-wide dream.

Charles Schumer made a promise to deliver a pool when he was our Representative. Anthony Weiner picked up the promise when Schumer moved up to the Senate and Weiner succeeded Schumer to that office.

Two years ago, money was allocated to do a study and to at least begin the process to bring a pool to Rockaway. The hopes of those who favor the pool, however, were dashed when the National Park Service announced that the allocated money would be used for infrastructure improvements and maintenance rather than for the "natatorium" that both Weiner and Schumer promised.

The study that was funded two years ago has been completed, however, and what is shows is that Rockaway residents want a pool and that many people in the region would utilized the facility, but that it would quickly drown in red ink, without the funds to run it or to maintain it.

There are actually three proposals for a pool at the Riis Park Bathhouse, or "at another non-historic site at either Jacob Riis Park or Floyd Bennett Field."

The first proposal calls for an outdoor, seasonal pool, the second for a year-round indoors pool and the third for a year-round indoors pool with diving facilities.

According to the study, about 200,000 people a year would use the seasonal pool. At $2.50 per visit, the pool’s revenues would be about $500 thousand a year. Unfortunately, the pool would cost more than $9 million to build and would run at a net operating loss of $300 thousand each year.

The second alternative, according to the study released this week by Weiner, would lead to an even larger deficit. The study says that approximately 435,000 people would use the indoor facility each year, at a cost to each of $3,50 per visit. At that rate, the pool, which would cost $25 million to build, would run at a deficit of $1,157,000 a year.

The third alternative, an indoor pool with diving facilities, the alternative favored by most of those in Rockaway, would draw an estimated 435,000 users each year at the cost of $3.50 per visit. The pool, which would cost $34 million to build, would lose approximately $2.4 million each year.

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