2007-08-24 / Letters

'Solve The Problem'At Arverne YMCA

Dear Editor,

I have been following the proceedings regarding the construction of the YMCAat Arverne-By-The-Sea, and in particular the plans for the swimming/ aquatic complex there, through the coverage in The WAVE. Although I am a very interested party, I have refrained to this point from getting involved as I have had more than a full plate with my other endeavors and have tried to see how it was playing out. After reading this week's WAVE, I believe a critical point has been reached that will require INTERVENTION to produce the best result for the community.

Arverne-By-The-Sea is the key to Rockaway's future and they have proven to be a positive force and community friendly organization. ABTS wants what's best for Rockaway in whole as that is critical to the success of its project. I was not privy to the conversations and the promises that were made to the Community Board during the planning stages that led to the awarding of the property to the Benjamin/Beechwood organization.

I DO KNOW that Kevin Callaghan is correct in stating that Rockaway is in great need of an eight-lane, 50 yard/meter lap pool and it would be fully utilized, despite what Congressman Weiner's survey might have found during the feasibility study for the Riis Park pool that was promised by then-Congressman Schumer and subsequently, Congressman Weiner.

Thirty-five years ago, Beach Channel High School was built and due to an error in reading the architect's plans or NYC's fiscal problems (both?), the pool that should have already been in place was not built. Beach Channel's swim teams have had to use Far Rockaway High School's pool as a result. Scholars Academy will welcome its initial 9th grade class this fall as it develops into a 6-12 with a full athletic program that will also be in need of a pool for its swim team's meets and practices.

The CYO swim programs at St. Francis de Sales and St. Thomas More struggle to find adequate pool time and would both embrace a pool at ABTS and would probably be willing to make long-term commitments to prove the viability of the pool.

Then there are our ongoing issues with lifeguard training and recruitment to staff our beaches. As ABTS develops and matures, this problem will become more acute as currently underused beaches will require staffing. The problem will not be solved overnight. Perhaps NYC Parks will use some sense and commit to the project and move some of their lifeguard training there. This will help recruit needed lifeguards in the short term, but more importantly, the presence of the pool will build a future base of candidates and our beaches will not only become fully staffed once again, but perhaps become even more selective, giving Rockaway the highly qualified force that is necessary to serve our beachgoers.

If I am understanding correctly, an additional $2-3 million would be required to make the changes necessary to provide the pool that Rockaway NEEDS and that ABTS and YMCA are amenable to, as long as the funding is secured. I believe that the YMCA and ABTS have already made substantial commitments to get to this point. The question is how to make up the difference. I believe that it is within the power of the four of you and should be made the highest priority.

Congressman Weiner- Rockaway is not asking you to come up with the funding necessary to build a pool from scratch at Riis Park, but maybe a million or two to contribute here? Close to that was spent to do a 'study' to say that a pool is not needed. I will come back to you in the future to fund that pool when it is demonstrated that this pool is not enough to meet the needs of the community.

Joe, Jill, Alan, Dr. C [Dr. Cashin]- perhaps another million can be wrung out of the DOE, PSAL, and Parks budgets?

Audrey, Malcolm- Could you handle the balance at the state level- it shouldn't be much.

The Graybeards and the CYO's of St. Francis and St. Thomas More would be glad to minimize costs by doing any "grunt work" if that would help.

Let's stop the blaming and solve the problem. The money is minimal in the scope of things but the opportunity is too precious and should not be squandered. LET'S GET THIS DONE.

I look forward to responses from each of you, and will be glad to play any part necessary to be part of the solution.


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