Some public access to Niskayuna school pool restored

The Starfish Swim Club held a SwimAThon for Cystic Fibrosis at the Niskayuna High School swimming pool on Saturday morning January 23, 2016.MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER The Starfish Swim Club held a SwimAThon for Cystic Fibrosis at the Niskayuna High School swimming pool on Saturday morning January 23, 2016.
By Zachary Matson
Gazette Reporter
Aug. 24, 2018

NISKAYUNA — Public pool access is expected to return to Niskayuna High School next month, with new hours and rates that may rise in the coming years.

When it reopens, the high school pool will be more efficiently managed, district officials said. The district will restore morning access, from 5:30 a.m. to 6:50, as well as nighttime access, from 8:30 to 9:50. But access will not be allowed during the school day, as was previously the case.

The pool, which has been accessible to the community since renovations in the early 2000s, was closed March 2 as part of a raft of safety precautions the district took in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a few weeks earlier.

After eliminating access, district officials said they learned more about inefficiencies in how the pool was operated, citing lifeguards late to work and pool users having to wait in the early morning to gain access.

Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. met with pool users in the spring to describe efforts to better manage the pool and promise to restore pubic access. But district officials have not updated pool users since then.

“There is a bit of frustration we haven’t received any updates,” Andrew Bachert told the school board at a regular meeting earlier this month.

Tangorra acknowledged there had not been communication with pool users since he met with them in the spring. But he announced the district’s pledge to reopen pool access to the public soon after school resumes.

“We agree that it’s certainly an asset to have the pool open to the community,” Tangorra said. “I wasn’t going to open the pool back up if it was going to continue to be inefficient.”

During the recent school meeting he laid out the new hours, which will also include access from noon to 2:50 p.m. on weekends, and explained how lifeguards would be more closely managed going forward. He also said access would not be restored during school hours.

“We are not going to allow community members to come in and use the pool or use any of our buildings in the middle of the day,” Tangorra said.

Wayne Matuszyk said he had used the pool during his lunch break.

“Every year things are getting whittled away from us as a resource, it’s closing earlier in June and opening later in September, now those morning and afternoon hours are in jeopardy,” he said before Tangorra had described the new hours.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed in losing lunch time,” Matuszyk said after Tangorra addressed the new pool hours at the meeting. Matuszyk, his wife and Bachert said they were pleased the district planned to better manage the pool operation.

Running the pool with the new system will cost the district about $37,000 a year, Tangorra said. At last year’s pool-use rate, Niskayuna residents paid $70 for an individual and $130 for families. With approximately 100 users, the district raised about $11,000 in pool fees. Tangorra suggested the district would consider raising fees in steps over time and said he would present a new fee proposal at the Sept. 4 board meetings.

“We want to continue to make this the most affordable alternative for our taxpayers,” he said.