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Sep 6, 2019 11:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Community College’s Athletic Facility Now Open To The Public

Officials cutting the ribbon at the facility's opening ceremony in May. PRESS FILE
Sep 10, 2019 2:50 PM

Westhampton Beach resident Mitchell Schecter had waited eagerly for months to use Suffolk County Community College’s new Health and Wellness Center at the Northampton campus.

His wait finally ended on Thursday, September 5, when he visited the 48,000-square-foot facility on Speonk-Riverhead Road for the first time and signed up for a $220-a-year senior membership. He now has year-round access to an eight-lane swimming pool, fitness area, indoor track, rock climbing wall, basketball courts and locker rooms.

“I do have a pool in my home, but, of course, that’s going to close soon. And it was the pool I was really after, because during the winter I really like to do that. That’s my thing,” said Mr. Schecter, a board member at the Westhampton Free Library and a volunteer at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

He went on, “In the summer, you can go out anyway — walking, on a bicycle, take the dog — but on a winter day, it’s going to be great for the local residents to have something to do to exercise and be healthy, and bring their kids to a place that’s going to be healthy.”

Back in May, Mr. Schecter learned that the facility had officially opened, after years of planning and construction, but it was available only to enrolled students at the time, and the school did not yet accept public memberships. The college opened it up to the public nearly four months later, on September 3, two days before Mr. Schecter stopped by.

Public access was originally slated for June, but a delay in installing a point-of-sale system to sell and track memberships caused the opening to be pushed back, according to Drew Biondo, the college’s director of communications.

“Folks are anxious,” Mr. Biondo said in an email last month.

The center’s amenities are now available to the public seven days a week, but hours vary throughout the week. Hours also change during the academic year from September through May. Yearly membership fees start at $220 for senior citizens and children living in Suffolk County, and go up to $720 for families. Daily passes are also offered for $10 per day.

The pool will also serve as a training site for members of the 106th Rescue Wing and be available for local rescue dive teams.

During his visit Thursday morning, September 5, Mr. Schecter said he toured the entire facility and met some of the staff members and even some students who were using the amenities. When he left, he said he would return the following day and go at least three times a week, as it is conveniently located 14 minutes from his home.

“I felt so special being there — I really did. I felt like, ‘Whoa, this is, like, tailor-made for me,’” he said. “I hope a lot of people get to enjoy it. And it was worth waiting for.”

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