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Berkeley Heights — Letters to the Editor

Just Like Nassau ... With One VERY BIG Difference

Lesley Kuska

Thursday, May 2, 2013 • 9:41pm

My Daughter (s) spent many years at BAC; as a parent I didn't always agree with everything about the program, but as that same parent now in hind sight, there is so much value to be gained from participation in the BAC program(s) and support of the new facility.

About two years ago we moved out-of-state to a land of many pools, all of which seem to be built without the public spectacle, wrought with inflamatory statements and untruths, going on in Berkeley Heights over the proposed BAC facility.  All this fighting is damaging to the most important people anyone should be considering in the matter, the athletes of BAC. Given the present state of this country and the turmoil some of our youth are creating in their communities,  shouldn't we all be grateful, regardless of the sacrifice (for example, investing a small amount of 'sewer capacity)' to make sacrifices without hesitation, if it benefits our children? Shouldn't we do anything we can to create a place about which our communities may boast, where our children can participate in healthy for the mind and body activities while mentors pay attention to them, not just their swimming?

Are we talking about such extreme sacrifice and hardship that any community wouldn't be willing to commit to it for the benefit of children? Can't the nay-sayers and opposition re-frame this matter as one through which we can help kids be successful and all take pride in any contribution, compromise and sacrifice to facilitate this noble cause? 

From Stop The BAC

"Given the noise out there about the size of BAC Warren's proposed facility, we thought we'd highlight another swim facility of recognition: the US Olympic Committee Aquatic Center. How big is that? 45,000 square feet. BAC Warren wants to build a facility that is 51,000 square feet, or more than 13% larger than USOC's own facility..."

The 'Stop the BAC' statement above is misleading at best and disrespectful at worst.  While I am not disputing the size of the USOC Colorado Springs Facility, the USA Olympic team trains in numerous facilities across the country - for example - the University of Tennessee Natatorium and the newest of the approved 'Olympic Training Facilities, which is not 45,000 sq. ft., or 51,000 sq. ft, but 293,000 square feet.  The facility opened in 2011 and was built in the residential community of Geneva "On the Lake", Ohio, without any tremendous public uproar.  It is enormous, and offers elite and 'elite hopeful' athletes the advantages of unparalleled training space. 

From Pictures are more Compelling than Words‏

"The comparable but larger pool facility is then the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY. Per Nassau County’s website, "The 80,000-square-foot Center includes a “stretch” 50-meter pool that is 68 meters long, with three movable bulkheads. The pool setup varies from day to day, with 50-meter, 25-yard and/or 25-meter lap lanes, depending on the pool setup." Most descriptions of the BAC proposed pool facility have it as a 51,000-square-foot facility.  

The height could be lower but to have adequate ventilation in a chlorine-infused facility, the ceiling must be very high still. To paraphrase a BAC management statement during the presentation several years ago, there will be lots of air in the BAC facility."

I sat in the same meetings as Mr. Martinez, during which I do not recall any questioning or objection to the size, shape ... etc., of the proposed building throughout this 13 year process, excluding presently, herein.  Regardless, while the math is compelling, the argument is not.  The Nassau Facility was built primarily as a SPECTATOR facility, while the proposed BAC and the Geneva Facilities, are being proposed as primarily TRAINING facilities - and there is difference. Spectator facilities, the magnitude of those like the Nassau pool are built to accommodate rows and rows and more rows of spectator seating, which changes the necessary dimensions of any structure. The Nassau Facility is Years old, while the BAC and Geneva facilities are more contemporary in design and have a modest amount of fixed seating that is augmented by modular bleachers, added on a per-event basis.  The meeting comments mentioned by Mr. Martinez, referring to 'lots of  air' in the new facility were not in reference to a ceiling height, but toward assuring the community that the poor air quality at the present facility would be improved with better ventilation in the new pool. I respect everyone's right to share and state their opinions, but these statements seem mis-leading, at best. and manipulative at worst.

My Daughter swims at the Geneva facility twice a week, but I wish she could swim there more often, as the benefit of training space is not trivial; I drive her 140 miles round trip because she feels like an Olympian in this grand site  - so I make the sacrifice. The pool sits just off the highway, with a quaint residential community on its borders.  Because it doesn't house 20+ rows of Spectator seating like Nassau, it is just two+ stories high - and from the road looks a lot like a school gynasium and NOTHING like the Nassau pool.

I have read a good deal about Berkeley Heights not benefitting from the new facility, but haven't you benefitted for nearly 40 years from the families training at the existing site?  Benefitted from all the BAC families like my own supporting your businesses, restaurants and stores?  It's true we aren't all Berkeley Heights taxpayers, but collectively we have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into your community from which your tax paying businesses have benefitted. Doesn't the community benefit from the publicity of the elite athletes? What more than almost 40 years of support can you require from an organization? Might it be time to show some goodwill and provide your support for this facility?

The BAC is trying to give more athletes the benefit of having their moments in which they feel like an Olympian - I have heard Jim Wood speak many times and while he has coached Olympians, he has said he is most proud of the moments a not so elite swimmer exceeds their own expectations and for a brief moment, feels like a super-star.  He is a great Coach, be thankful Berkeley Heights to have him within your midst, he is revered around the country and by the thousands of athletes that he has Coached. And Jim Wood is an even better man steering a very noble cause, the building of this youth focused facility in which every one of your community members would have a place in which they can work toward excellence, why say NO?

Vote YES on May 7th.

 

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