Standing next to an empty, cracked and rusted Olympic-sized swimming pool Tuesday, Islip officials announced a plan to give Brentwood's Roberto Clemente Park a $1.5 million face-lift.
Councilman Steven Flotteron said the refurbished facility at the former Timberline Park -- which drew questions from angry residents, when it was closed and not funded for this year -- should be open for the public in time for summer 2014.
"It's a long time coming for this park. For this to happen now is a great thing for our community and for Islip Town," said Tito Burrowes, coordinator for local neighborhood group the Brentwood Association of Concerned Citizens. "A lot of kids didn't have an opportunity to swim this summer because they don't have their own pools at their homes . . . When kids don't have things to do, they get caught up in deviant stuff, deviant behavior."
Since late winter, the town has secured grant funds from the New York State Dormitory Authority, and the Community Development Agency and has promised $750,000 of the town's 2013 capital budget to overhaul the aging and decrepit pool, which is also slated to receive a state-of-the-art spray park as part of its major renovation.
"The town board had a tough decision to make in regard to the operation of the Roberto Clemente/Timberline pool facility for summer 2013, one that we did not take lightly," said Flotteron. Among the renovations: a complete resurfacing of the main swimming pool, relocation of the underground chlorine tanks and an upgrade of the pool's filtration system. Elsewhere in the pool area, two old kiddie pools and a diving pool are to be replaced by a new playground and a spray park. The area around the pools will be freshly landscaped.
At its regular meeting following Tuesday's announcement, the town board voted to hire engineers and surveyors Nelson & Pope of Melville to design the renovations for Roberto Clemente Park pool.
But a few residents who spoke at the meeting had concerns that Casamento Park pool in West Islip -- which the town kept open this summer while Roberto Clemente's pool was shuttered - was closing for good because of financial reasons and the pool's waning popularity.
"We feel very strongly about not having that pool close," said West Islip resident Mickey Hollander. "It is the only pool in the area that services the western part of Islip."
Flotteron and Councilman Anthony Senft said the goal is to fund all the town's pools, but that Casamento consistently has low attendance.
"To keep on going with the same old thing with bad attendance -- we might have to make a tough decision," Flotteron said. "We're looking at different ways to approach it."
Upgrades to Roberto Clemente Park pool:
Converting two kiddie pools into a spray park
Resurfacing the Olympic-sized pool
New filtration system for the pool
Relocation of the underground chlorine tanks
Replacing dive pool with a new playground
Completion date: Summer 2014
$300,000 grant from the Community Development Agency
$500,000 grant from the New York State Dormitory Authority
$750,000 from the town's 2013 capital budget