After a wave of criticism from residents following the decision by the Islip Town board to cut funding for two of the town’s pools, Islip officials now say they’re working to reopen at least one of the pools this summer.
The cuts happened quietly, but when residents discovered that budget lines for Roberto Clemente Park pool in Brentwood and Casamento Park pool in West Islip had been zeroed out, they began showing up at town board meetings en masse and protesting outside Town Hall, chanting “Stop the axes, lower our taxes.”
There’s no guarantee either pool will reopen this summer, Councilman Anthony Senft said, but he added that he is optimistic. Senft said town officials are particularly focused on reopening Roberto Clemente Park pool because it serves a more isolated area that’s farther away from the town’s other six pools.
Roberto Clemente Park pool is old and needs expensive repairs, Senft explained, but he’s hopeful the town will get a $300,000 grant through the Islip Community Development Agency to address the pool’s issues.
“As a result of the storms, we’ve had to use money that was to be earmarked for that pool,” Senft said.
Regardless of whether the grant comes through, Senft, a Conservative, said he’s working on a plan to create private-public partnerships to run the pools long-term, the same strategy the mostly Republican town board has employed several other times — for example, when it dissolved its entire human services department and cut funding to the South Shore Nature Center in East Islip.
“I’d love to have all of our pools open, but I don’t think there’s an economic reality to that,” Senft said.