A public security officer directs a visitor to the alternate overflow parking lots on a recent Sunday afternoon in the main Aquatic Center parking lot.
Parking at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park has long been a problem, according to regular visitors to the 80,000-square-foot facility. The Aquatic Center regularly hosts major swimming and diving competitions in its pool, as well as local high school events and swim club workouts. The popular facility has hundreds of visitors each day.
But before they enter the building, they first must find a parking spot. The main parking lot, on Merrick Avenue, has roughly 90 parking spaces, and during peak hours — weeknights, mornings and weekends — finding a spot there can be impossible, and visitors are usually directed to two overflow lots, 1 and 6a.
Carnell Foskey, the commissioner of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, said in an email issued through a county spokesperson that “According to the staff at the Aquatic Center, [parking] has been the number one complaint for the past 15 years.”
Lot 1 is about a quarter-mile from the Aquatic Center, which is a problem for many of those who swim at night. Several said they must make the walk down a poorly lit pathway with no police patrol in sight.
Foskey insisted that the pathways connecting the overflow lots and the Aquatic Center are well lit. But pool users claim that the lights are not bright enough to make the walk a safe one. The Herald visited the park at dusk on Monday, and took a walk from the main lot to overflow Lot 1. While the first part of the pathway leading from the main lot was brightly lit, the remainder of the path was dark.
“I feel that it is unreasonable to expect a woman to walk to that area, in the dark, on an unlit path, alone,” said Lisa Hiller, a swim coach who lives in Roslyn Heights and a member of the Excel masters swim team, formerly known as Aquafit, which has used the pool since 1998. “It’s dangerous and potentially life-threatening to do so.”