Pave And Look Away - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1987101

Pave And Look Away

Repeatedly pressed to report on their finances, STAR AquaCenter made a splash at a “Breakfast of Champions” by finally revealing the name of the donor of their initial $5 million for a “public” swimming pool [“STAR Pool Push Continues, With Major Donor Named,”, June 27]. It is anticipated that the pool will be named after them.

This hardly fulfills the due diligence expected of the town after Jay Schneiderman handed over to STAR a $4.9 million, 7-acre parcel of land, purchased with Community Preservation Fund money for “open space.” The town enticed the project (and its promoter, Naples, Florida, resident Josephine DiVincenzi) from Red Creek, where it had been approved, was better suited and moving along.

No financial statement attesting to monies on hand to build and maintain this sports facility has been sought by the town. And none provided. Except for unsubstantiated coy hints.

The estimate of $20 million to “build the center,” reported in The Press, is woefully incorrect, if not laughable. The original estimate to construct the pool alone was $26 million, and the cost of everything to do with construction has skyrocketed, as everyone knows. This figure does not account for the monies needed to be raised annually for maintenance, staff, insurance.

Mr. Schneiderman should realize the importance of stringent accountability and oversight, since his involvement in a similar project in East Hampton, when he was supervisor there, belly-flopped and cost taxpayers a bundle. STAR AquaCenter is rumored to be enamored of that particular pool model.

Despite sentimental references to drowning children and “building character,” this “pool” quickly morphed into a proposed two-story sports complex with asphalt for 167 cars (so much for “open space”), and a “meeting room” and “flex space” more suited to the fitness needs of an older demographic, able to pay the anticipated membership fees.

It is not designed to close the “racial and economic gap between who wades in the shallow end of a pool and who jumps off the diving board,” as Andrea Dozier Nartey, in a perplexing metaphor, says it must.

No need was established for this potential financial sinkhole to migrate from Hampton Bays to Southampton, except a push from Schneiderman. A marketing arm was added — what funds pay for that? — aided and abetted by pool and sports facility developers from the Midwest and a free pass on oversight.

Absent from the self-congratulatory pronouncements is any consideration of the already gridlocked traffic grinding down all the surrounding residential streets from Country Road 39 to Hill Street that this will add to. Nor the concurrent bocce courts, tennis, etc., just approved for Moses Park around the corner. Nor the environmental impacts.

Look before you leap? The town prefers to pave the way and look away.

Frances Genovese


The quote attributed above to Andrea Dozier Nartey actually was a paraphrase written by the author of the article, not a direct quote — Ed.