The Town of Islip has broken ground on a project to rehabilitate the long-shuttered public pool at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and open it by next summer.
The work, which started Oct. 16, will cover the interior of the pool and the surrounding pavement, officials said. The plumbing and filtration systems for the pool will also be replaced and updated.
The town board voted in August to select Bensin Contracting Inc. of Holtsville to handle the estimated $2.78 million renovation.
The pool was closed by the town after the summer season of 2012, with town officials citing budget cuts. Officials had vowed to fix up the Olympic-size pool and reopen it by the summer of 2014, but in April 2014, 40,000 tons of contaminated debris was found to have been dumped at the Brentwood park, prompting the park’s closure.
The park reopened this August, but the pool has remained closed.
“The park has been closed for a while but the pool has been closed even longer than that,” said Herbie Medina, founder of the community group Uplift Brentwood. Now, “people have something to look forward to.”
Medina said that everyone in the community has memories of teaching their children or grandchildren to swim in that pool, and he’s hopeful those traditions can be resumed.
“It’s definitely great news,” he said. “It definitely makes me feel better to know they’re keeping their word.”
The project will be paid for through the town’s capital fund, long-term debt and with a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Tom Owens, Islip’s commissioner of public works and parks and recreation.
Owens said the pool needed work after being “neglected” by the prior administration, adding that it had structural damage from freezing and thawing over the past few years.
“It’s a great feel to know that the children who have been without a pool and park — where both the town board and the community’s been violated — it’s very nice to give the park back to the residents,” Owens said.
Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), who has been outspoken about the condition of the park, said she was “cautiously optimistic” to hear about the start of the work on the pool.
“Residents of my district feel deceived by the delay of the reopening of their park as it has been more than four years in which they have been waiting after several postponements,” she said in a statement. “Our children and families want a place they can enjoy on those hot summer days and cool nights.”