Editorial: Two more reminders of our lacking athletic facilities

06/18/2016 9:00 AM |

The YMCA of Long Island website shows locations in the towns of East Hampton, Brookhaven, Islip, Huntington and Oyster Bay. 

Noticeably absent are the two towns on the North Fork, where no similar programs are currently offered and which are not convenient to any of the existing YMCAs.

More than three years have passed since plans were dropped for a Peconic YMCA, which at various times over more than a decade was proposed for Aquebogue, Riverhead and Calverton.

The only hope in recent years for proponents of a North Fork YMCA came in the form of two proposals for athletic clubs — one planned for the Suffolk County Community College campus in Northampton and the more recent Sports East proposal pitched for Main Road in Mattituck.

But both proposals now appear to have hit government snags that seem to signal — at least for now — that their arrivals are far from imminent.

It’s been more than eight months since state and county officials appeared with shovels at the SCCC campus to break ground on the fitness center there, which would include an eight-lane indoor swimming pool, a rock climbing wall, a regulation-size basketball court, an indoor track and weight training equipment. A fitness center there was first proposed more than 40 years ago.

A visit to the campus this week showed that the pile of dirt is still there, along with a now faded sign announcing the fitness center’s arrival.

Apparently, the groundbreaking never led to any actual construction. We’ve since learned that the project was held up by Suffolk County and the plans are currently being redesigned. Then the bid process will begin, but likely not until the fall.

In other words, ground will not be rebroken anytime soon.

The Sports East plan is also far from ready for prime time, as town officials are now questioning whether a membership club is an allowable use on the property for which it’s currently proposed.

The 82,500-square-foot health club on Main Road would be Southold Town’s first indoor sports facility, complete with a swimming pool, synthetic field for multiple sports, basketball court, four tennis courts, two batting cages, a gym, space for yoga, spin classes and more.

Whether any of the concerns that have held up these proposals could lead to their ultimate downfall remains to be seen.

It’s just a bit disappointing to be reminded once again that many of the amenities these facilities would offer are not already available for residents of the North Fork.

Five towns on Long Island feature a YMCA. We’ve already been waiting decades for anything similar to come along.

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