Ship finally set to sail for Arverne by the Sea YMCA

October 17, 2008 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Plans to build a YMCA at the Arverne by the Sea complex in the Rockaways are finally moving forward after a year of wrangling over the size of the facility.

The developer, Benjamin-Beechwood LLC, is preparing to file plans with the city Buildings Department for approval to start work next month on the project, which will include a four-lane pool and outdoor basketball court, a company official said.

Community groups have been pushing for an Olympic-sized pool and an enclosed gymnasium – but funding never materialized.

Residents were hoping to tap a Port Authority fund to help neighborhoods affected by air traffic at local airports.

“We weren’t asking for that much,” said Kevin Callaghan, 56, a retired FDNY lieutenant who was lobbying for a bigger pool.

“The airport impacts our quality of life. [The Port Authority] is sitting on a pile of money.”

The plans originally called for a $13 million YMCA, but construction has been delayed more than a year as the developer, community groups and elected officials sought an extra $5 million for the expansion.

Arverne by the Sea representatives said the plan could still be amended if funding is made available in the next month.

“The original requests called for a 30,000-square-foot community center – that’s it,” said Gerry Romski, a lawyer representing Benjamin-Beechwood.

“It was never going to be an Olympic-sized pool on eight lanes. We knew the community wanted some sort of pool, so we put in plans for a four-lane lap pool,” he said.

Given the current financial crisis, the developer is eager to complete the YMCA as soon as possible, Romski said.

“It would be nice if we had the extra swimming lanes, but it’s going to be a beautiful center anyway,” said Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska. “We’d like to see them start it and get it over with.”

Romski said the developer remains committed to expanding the building, but doubts additional money will appear as the city deals with a bleak economic future.

“The costs have gone up close to a million dollars since last year,” said Romski. “If the funds appear, we’ll use them to enclose the gymnasium and expand the size of the pool.”


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