For Island swimmers frustrated with having to go off-Island to get their chlorine fix, there is finally some promising news.
RIOC President Susan Rosenthal announced that they have hired a vendor to complete major repairs to the indoor swimming pool.
The repairs consist of the complete removal of the existing pool shell finish and replacement with white Marcite slip-resistant pool finish; installation of black pool marking tiles; removal and replacement of six starting platforms and the removal and replacement of a diamond steel plate.
Rosenthal expects the pool to reopen around December 2. “The schedule will not have to be moved,” she said. “There will be a slight delay (two weeks maximum) because of an issue with the skylights.”
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright recently sent a letter to the Westview Management Company on behalf of Island seniors who have been unable to attend swim classes since August 15 when the Sportspark pool – and the entire facility – closed for repairs.
Seawright requested that Westview allow seniors to use their indoor pool at low to no cost until the Sportspark renovations are complete.
The request is the latest effort by Islanders scrambling to find alternatives to Sportspark’s popular swimming programs as construction continues.
In her letter, Seawright wrote, “As you may know, Sportspark pool hosted water aerobics classes to Roosevelt Island senior residents over the age of 60 at no cost. The classes were physically, mentally, and socially beneficial to the senior swimmers... seniors will be unable to enjoy the important benefits of daily low-impact exercise until the renovation of the Sportspark is complete. It is my understanding that some of the residents have presented their proposal to Westview and would like a response to their proposal.”
The pool closure has also had an impact on the Island’s competitive swim team, the Roosevelt Island Marlins. The group had to move practices off the Island and temporarily shut down its Learn to Swim program.
“We tried week after week to persuade Westview and Rivercross to let us rent their pools during Sportspark renovations for the Learn to Swim program, with no success,” said Marlins Board Member Olga Shchuchinov. As a result, Shchuchinov says, “Our Learn to Swim program is suspended, so we are very sad that over 100 Island families couldn’t train with us this season. It is also a big issue for us financially, as a small, non-profit, parent-run organization.”
Of the swim team, Shchuchinov said, “The team is training at a pool in Astoria. It is a very difficult adjustment for our families because of the late practice times and commute. However, we pulled together, and organized a carpool, so every single swim team swimmer continued to train with us – quite an accomplishment; we are very proud of it.”
According to Shchuchinov, the effort of getting all of the kids off the Island and back has helped the team grow stronger as a community and has built friendships across age groups. Still, she hopes the commute won’t be a long-term one.
“Obviously, with the weather getting colder, and shorter daylight time in October and November, we are, of course, looking forward to returning to Sportspark as soon as possible,” said Shchuchinov.
Status of Repairs
Despite the pool being closed for months, no work has been done on the pool to date. On Thursday’s RIOC Board Meeting, the Board passed two Sportspark-related resolutions, one related to the heating system installation and boiler, and the other regarding roof and façade repairs.
Sportspark Wish List
Roosevelt Island Residents Association Island Services Committee member Susana Del Campo Perea, who acts as the liaison with RIOC regarding Sportspark, says she has heard from many Islanders about Sportspark’s closure. She says residents want more swim time on weekdays, want the pool to be open to children under 18 on weekends, more exercise classes in the pool.
“More importantly” said Perea, “RIOC should start the process of setting a class schedule and hiring instructors now so it is ready when the facility opens.”