NIFA nixes $26M plan for Aquatic Center

The Nassau County Aquatic Center was built in The Nassau County Aquatic Center was built in 1998 for the International Goodwill Games. (May 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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Nassau's financial control board has turned down a $26 million plan to refurbish the county's Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park, but approved a $5.4 million contract to renovate the now-closed police shooting range in Hempstead.

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Members of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority questioned the cost of the Aquatic Center project before rejecting a $21.8 million contract with E & A Restoration on Thursday. NIFA staff reported the county had already borrowed $11 million, spent $4 million on new machinery, and wanted to borrow an additional $14.8 million.

Although the center's swimming pool and surrounding building is only 13 years old, high humidity and high air chlorine from an improperly designed heating and air conditioning system damaged the duct work, roof, walls and electrical systems, according to the staff report.

NIFA member Chris Wright said spending that kind of money for a recreation facility is "fiscally imprudent even in a good year." NIFA member Dermond Thomas questioned why the county had not prioritized the work by health and safety issues. Chairman Ronald Stack said the county "could come back with a scaled-down contract, saying exactly what they're going to do."

A spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano said, "It is our understanding that NIFA prefers the county fix the structural problems with the aquatic center in phases. County officials will speak with the contractor to determine if this is a viable option and determine how much it will increase the overall cost of rehabilitation."

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Meanwhile, NIFA unanimously approved a two-year contract with Wenger Construction Co. to renovate the police shooting range, closed since June 2011 because of continuing health and safety problems, including ricochet bullets.

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