County officials have confirmed that the long-awaited renovation of the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow is expected to begin in July.
According to county officials and documents, the long-term, $20 million project will include an extensive rehabilitation of the facility’s heating and ventilation systems, as well as other electrical and mechanical work and the replacement of the roof. A source in the county government told the Herald that a consultant has nearly completed a design, and that planners are awaiting the approval of the Legislature. The source said that if the project is approved, the renovation would take six months, from July 1 through the end of the year.
Since it opened for the 1998 Goodwill Games, the Aquatic Center, in Eisenhower Park, has had a range of problems that the county has blamed on poor development and construction of the facility.
On April 8, 2009, a 40-pound light fixture fell about 55 feet from the ceiling, landing in the pool. Though there were about 75 swimmers in the pool at the time, no one was injured. The incident prompted the county to close the facility for nearly a month for repairs. One of the many complaints about the way the center was built concerned the developers’ decision to use stainless steel support wires on the ceiling, which, the county said at the time, corroded and led to the fallen light fixture.
In 2004, the county filed a lawsuit against two state agencies, the Empire State Development Corporation and the state Dormitory Authority, and several contractors that were responsible for the construction in 1998, in an effort to recoup money to fix the center.
Since the lawsuit was filed, the county has run into legal hurdles, which County Attorney John Ciampoli described as a “complex past” for the case. So the county decided to shift gears, Ciampoli said, directing a new lawsuit solely against the two state agencies and removing the contractors from the case.