Politicians’ largesse keeps Y members in the swim


Summer might be over, but swimming lives on at The Riverdale Y’s newly renovated pool.

The 25-yard saltwater pool reopened last week after nearly a month of renovation. Jeffrey Klein, in his capacity as a state senator, allocated $150,000 to improve the pool’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. 

It repaired a duct built under the pool in the 1980s that had been eroded by water and moisture, damaging the air quality, said Deann Forman, The Y’s executive director.

“HVAC is not exciting to people because you can’t see it, you can’t touch it. But it’s important,” Forman said. “You want to be able to breathe in a space that has comfortable heating, cooling, humidity control and air quality.”

The pool accommodates a wide variety of the programs The Y offers, ranging from lifeguard training to aqua therapy for senior citizens. In the future, Forman said, The Y will add more to its roster, like a babysitting and child care certification program from the American Red Cross. 

Klein isn’t the only politician lending a helping hand to The Y these days. Last week, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz allocated funds to implement a wheelchair-accessible playground, something Forman said The Y is quite grateful for.

“Children with physical disabilities and caregivers with physical disabilities can play side-by-side with all children,” Forman said, “so that’s wonderful.” 

As The Y looks toward its future, Forman said more renovations to the building which was once a school more than 30 years ago — are needed. 

“Our space has had consistent challenges all along because it wasn’t designed for the purposes for which it’s used, plus it’s not a young facility,” she said. “There are a lot of projects that are going to need to be addressed over the next several years.”

Those projects include improving conditions of locker rooms, providing more air- conditioning, and fixing the building’s roof.

The Y, however, can’t just depend on the political clout of Assemblymen and senators, said Rick Lund, the facility’s new development director. That’s where the community needs to step in to help keep the organization afloat. 

Nearly a third of The Y’s budget needs to come from donors, Lund said. One way to hopefully draw potential contributors is with The Y’s new makeshift “giving tree” in the lobby. The “tree” allows community members to pick a paper leaf from the display, and follow the instructions on the front of it on how they can give back.

“Our success is dependent on the community,” Lund said. “We need the community to understand that without their donations, there wouldn’t be a Y. And because of their donations, we have a Y that’s old, but clean, and a great place to be.”

In the meantime, Forman hopes the revamped pool continues to draw in and educate people of all ages. 

“Learning to swim and learning safety in the water is such an important life skill that not everyone has access to,” she said. “What I hope is that through (this renovation), kids and adults can become safe in the water and be able to use all of the benefits that swimming provides, both in terms of health and wellness.”