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May 15, 2019 10:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus Opens Athletic Facility With Public Swimming Pool

The interior of the new Suffolk County Community College Health and Wellness Center.  DANA SHAW
May 15, 2019 10:14 AM

Local residents and groups will soon have access to Suffolk County Community College’s Health and Wellness Center, which officially opened at the Northampton campus on Friday.

The 48,000-square-foot indoor facility, equipped with an eight-lane swimming pool, two classrooms and a gym with a weight room, indoor track, basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, locker rooms and showers, was something that not only students were looking forward to using, but also members of the surrounding community.

College heads and elected officials were among the 125 people who celebrated its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 10. Speakers included Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., eastern campus Executive Dean and CEO Dr. Irene Rios, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming.

Mr. Schneiderman said at the ceremony that the town’s parks and recreation department and police department will use the facility for lifeguard and dive training.

Southampton Town Parks Director Kristen Doulos said that, although discussions are still preliminary, her department is looking to hold next spring’s lifeguard training sessions at the new center.

“With it being in Riverhead, that would be a great benefit to us for our training program,” Ms. Doulos said, adding that the town currently holds training courses at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. “A lot of the people who do our training live here in the Town of Southampton, so obviously that would make it a lot more convenient for them.”

Additionally, members of the 106th Rescue Wing, stationed at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport Air National Guard Base in Westhampton, will also use the new pool for education and training, the unit’s public affairs officer, Michael O’Hagan, confirmed.

College students have been using the new center since February, as some spring semester classes required use of the classrooms, and it will be open to the public next month. For county residents, yearly membership rates will be $220 for children and senior citizens and $275 for adults, including college faculty, staff and alumni. Higher dues are required for families and residents living outside the county.

“Now, the campus is really complete,” said Drew Biondo, the college’s director of communications. “We opened a library in 2010, and now we have a health and wellness facility so that our students can have the complete college experience right there on the eastern campus.”

East End community organizations and residents have wanted more access to a public pool for years and efforts have been made toward that goal. The only existing pool is at the East Hampton YMCA, which is quite a drive for those living west of the Shinnecock Canal.

Right now, the nonprofit Southampton Town Aquatics and Recreation, Inc., or STAR, is planning to build a public aquatic center in Hampton Bays that will feature competition, recreation and therapy pools. Another plan by Southampton Town for a pool and gym complex fell short in 2009 due to high costs.

“We have fielded a lot of calls about when is it opening, how can I use it, where are the hours posted, those kinds of questions, so now that’s all available on our website,” Mr. Biondo said.

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