2007-09-14 / Editorial/Opinion

OPINIONS

Demands For A Larger Pool,An Enclosed Gym Question Remains:Who Will Pay The Freight?

More than a dozen people rose up last Monday night to tell Community Board 14 that the Rockaways needs and deserves a larger swimming pool and an enclosed gymnasium at the planned YMCA on Beach 73 Street. The community board agreed and voted to send a letter to the mayor and other elected officials and city agencies, saying that they are "disappointed" in the present plans for the Y and that those plans "do not meet the community's needs." The letter will ask that the necessary funds to expand the plans be made a budget priority by the city. We don't think that anyone disagrees with those who stated that opinion before the board. Most locals would like to see a state-of-the-art gym and an Olympic swimming pool at the Y. The question remains, however: where will the $4 million come from to fund the expansion? The cost of the new Y is being paid jointly by the YMCAof Greater New York and the developers of Arverne By The Sea, with some public money thrown in by local politicians. The Y and ABTS have earmarked $13 million to the development and construction of the building. Arverne By The Sea is required to build a "community center" as part of the deal with the city that gave it the land on which to build its new homes. There is no talk in that agreement about a swimming pool or gym, but ABTS agreed that a pool and aquatic center should be part of the project, and then later agreed to spend more money to make the pool deeper to accommodate lifeguard training. Locals who spoke out at the community board meeting want the board, the Y and ABTS to lobby public officials for the additional $4 million. While some local politicians have earmarked funds for the project, others have yet to kick in. In an editorial last week, we said that we do not believe that such money will be forthcoming, from our federal legislators, or the governor, or any other politician. We fear that, should the project be delayed to seek the extra money, the entire project could be jeopardized. Perhaps a short hiatus, up to a month, to see if the city or the state responds to the board's letter would be appropriate. To wait longer, however, will greatly reduce the chance that Rockaway will ever have the community facility that it has sought for so long.

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