Tired of what many feel is an unnecessary delay, local leaders, community residents and school affiliates met at Truman on May 15, to demand that the pool, which has been closed since 1995, be renovated and reopened to the community.
In discussing the matter, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, a former 20-year Co-op City schoolteacher, criticized the education department for their shortsighted views, which continue to limit their ability to recognize local needs.
“They do have an arrogance about them, at times, that they know what’s best for the community,” Benedetto said.
Despite the city’s budget crisis, Benedetto cited a lack of will rather than economic strain for the delay in renovation.
“They don’t understand the importance of that pool and the void that it has left here, not just to the students at the educational park, but to the entire community, including seniors,” Benedetto said.
Ken Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10 and former Co-op City resident, spoke of the board’s fight to make local concerns known downtown.
“We hope to reach out to the Department of Education to convince them to make the pool renovation a budget reality,” he said.
He commented that he didn’t feel DOE representatives made enough of an effort to reach out to community members through necessary forums such as community board meetings.
The conference featured three swimming coaches with ties to the school. Former assistant principal of physical education Marty Silverberg was on hand with his former swimmer Robert Bazzini, who later took the role as swim coach.
One of Bazzini’s former pupils, turned swim coach and physical education teacher, Artie Dorman, was also in attendance.
A group of supporters gathered in the school’s planetarium, another of the campus’ special resources, to show their desire for the project’s completion.
When operating, the pool was open to the community for swimming and various organized activities.
Congressman Joe Crowley aide and longtime Co-op City resident Paul Dominique spoke about how the pool closure affected his family.
“I have three kids and we went to the pool a couple times when it was open to the public and they were so excited,” Dominique said. “One day we went back and it was closed; the kids were pretty disappointed.”
Community activist Arthur Taub has lived in Co-Op City for 39 years spoke of both his love for the pool and his community.
“After playing basketball, I would swim at the pool two or three nights a week to get away from my wife and kids,” Taub joked. “We have to make a strong attempt as a cohesive union to apply pressure to the politicians to make this happen.”