Aquatic Center Push Is On

    The directors of the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation announced this week that they have decided to change Phase 2 of the plan and separate the aquatic center from the rest of the project, which will eventually include a performing arts center.
    “The Playhouse has been revised and rebooted to turn the dream of a year-round indoor pool for the whole community into a reality,” a release said.
    After much research, the organizers, who have been trying to raise more than $10 million for the two endeavors, decided to move forward and fulfill what they said is a pressing community need for the aquatic center, which is to have a 25-yard-long, 5-lane lap pool, a 16-foot-by-32-foot training pool, an administrative office, and locker rooms. The pools can be used for swimming classes, sports and fitness, aquatic therapy, lifeguard training, and rainy day events.
    The arts center will remain part of the overall project, but the plan has been refocused into two manageable stages after careful analysis and study, the directors said. The closest public indoor pool is many miles from the hamlet, they added. “The need for and benefits of an aquatic center for instruction and recreation are self-evident,” according to the release.
    Already in the bank is $1.5 million for the aquatic center, Maureen Rutkowski, the project director, said. She said donations that have previously been given to the performing arts center would remain in a separate account for that purpose.
    The goal is to reach $5 million to begin construction on the aquatic center. If that is obtained, groundbreaking could happen by 2014, with an opening celebration sometime in 2016. As with other projects at the Playhouse, naming opportunities are available for portions of the aquatic center.
    The news is expected to be announced on Aug. 4 at the Diamond in the Rough Gala, the foundation’s annual summer fund-raising event, which will be held under a lighted tent on the west side of the grounds from 7 to 11 p.m.
    The celebrity-studded event draws hundreds of revelers to dine, dance, and mingle with locals and those who come from all over for the party. Leading it this year are Aida Turturro of “The Sopranos” fame and Jerry O’Connell, a television actor whose parents live in the hamlet and who is married to Rebecca Romjin, the model and actress.
    The cost is $250 per person and that includes an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and an auction that last year included prizes such as a trip to China and free and always-available parking at the popular Ditch Plain Beach. There will be two bands, the Bastards of Boom and Celtic Cross, to rock the dance floor.
    Each year, the foundation honors people who have donated time and money to the Playhouse project. This year’s honorees are Dave and Cindi Ceva, Marlena and Sam Gershowitz, and Joan and Ron Hildreth. Tickets can be purchased at the door, at Willow on the south Plaza in Montauk, or online at