2007-08-31 / Letters

We Need A Better Pool For Our Youth

Dear Editor,

The developers building the YMCA and our elected officials need to hear that Rockaway community residents think the current plan to construct a four-lane pool will NOT meet the needs of our neighborhood. As someone dedicated to providing healthy options to our under-served youth, I urge all Rockaway parents to please take a few moments to invest in the future of our children and write or call Senators Schumer and Clinton, Congressmen Weiner and Meeks and/or Mayor Bloomberg. Politicians operate on statistics.

We need an eight-lane pool, complete with all the amenities other communities already have. We need a pool where we can train, work out and showcase our youth. We need a facility where competitive age-group swimming will be fostered. We need a lifeguard-training program, where our youth can easily compete for meaningful employment. We are a beach-side community with many of our residents sidelined because they cannot afford the time or money it takes to provide their families with swim instruction. We need educational and recreational options that YMCA's throughout America aptly provide. We are a community that already travels to Long Beach and beyond, paying the high cost of membership, tolls, gas and valuable time to provide our families with healthy options. Geographically isolated Rockaway residents deserve what has already been promised to them.

In May, I attended

a Department of Youth & Community Development forum where teenagers were invited to speak and address the issues that concerned them. Over and over the same remarks were stated by our youth leaders. We as adults need to address those concerns and the very real needs of our teens, who deal with gang activity, drug and alcohol use, few employment opportunities, fewer safe places for kids to congregate, prejudice, apathy, misunderstanding and the devastating effects of boredom. Build a place where our youth can be nurtured, sustained, trained and even possibly employed. We deserve no less and our children deserve so much more.

$14 million is currently being spent on this facility; another $3 million will double its operational capacity from a four-lane pool to an eight-lane pool.

Build a facility that can embrace and provide for the needs of all of our residents, advertise it as such, make it affordable and our community will come out and support it. It won't just be supported by our youth, it will also be supported by those concerned parents, grandparents, educators, coaches and adults also looking for options. There are many of us out there. Our voices need to be heard and our needs must and should be met.

MARINA CALLAGHAN

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