The price to swim at a public pool in Manhasset has been lowered to accommodate nearly 400 housing authority residents who live across the street.
Neighbors of the pool at Whitney Pond Park, which is being renovated in phases for $1.5 million, have complained of prohibitive fees to swim, as well as neglect at the park. Nassau County had transferred the pool and park to North Hempstead Town within the past decade.
The town, which had imposed a daily fee to use the pool, last spring added a more modest seasonal rate. Also, the town announced last week the fee is half that for residents of two nearby housing authority developments: Spinney Hill, built in 1946, and Pond View, in 1963, which are directly across from the park on Community Drive. The housing authority is paying for the difference.
Until this summer, residents had been charged up to $8 a day to use the pool. The new flat fees for the summer through Aug. 21 are: $100 for families, $50 for individuals and $45 for youths.
"People forget about the lower-income population here in Manhasset -- and in Great Neck -- and it's very important we have a pool," Desiree Woodson, 41, who has lived in the Pond View development for 23 years, said.
Housing authority residents will appreciate the convenience, she said, noting they are often hard-pressed to arrange rides to other public pools in town. "You can just walk across the street," Woodson said.
Town officials said in dropping the rates, they were responding to complaints from residents of the housing authority.
Woodson said she hopes more residents now join the pool -- "instead of standing outside the gate and looking in at all the kids having a good time."
"We just want to make sure that whoever wants to use the pool is able to, and the price is not a determining factor," town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan said last week at the pool.
Sean Rainey, the housing authority's executive director, said residents can sign up to join the pool in the office of their complex and the authority stepped in because "the town had problems getting people to join." It is also an effort to expand recreation opportunities.
"We want to make sure the community is able to make optimum use of the pool, and there was some concern that there might be members of the community who are not able to come because of the cost," Supervisor Judi Bosworth said.
The $1.58 million funding to renovate the pool comes from the town's capital plan and is covered by bonds. Before the pool was built, the property had been part of Payne Whitney's famed Greentree Estate. The town is also upgrading other parts of Whitney Pond Park, including a nature trail.
The effort underway is to upgrade the park to resemble "the condition of the other parks in the town," Bosworth said. On a recent trip, she pointed out that a relic of the park's past stewardship -- a sign noting the pool was for Nassau County residents only -- should be removed. The pool is also open to nonresidents.
"We're doing it slowly, but surely."