Under a brilliant blue sky, Montauk residents gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Montauk Playhouse Community Center’s new aquatic center on Aug. 2.
“Montauk is full of people who deeply care for our community,” said Sarah Iudicone, the Playhouse Foundation’s president. The process of getting to the point of groundbreaking was reminiscent of the concept of “third places,” she said, home being one’s first place and their work site or school being the second. “Third places play an important part in our identity,” she said. “They allow us to open ourselves up, learn more about the people around us, and deepen our civic engagement. And because of all of your support, Montauk is going to have a new third place.”
Standing before the grand facade of the building constructed by Carl Fisher as a twelve-court tennis arena, Ms. Iudicone gestured behind her, pointing to what will be the entrance to the first-floor aquatic center, an entry that will be two and a half stories high. “The existing skylight you see on the roof is going to be retained, and a wall of windows will be added to the north side, allowing for lots of natural light coming into the pool,” she said.
The center is to include a 32-by-33-foot shallow pool for instruction, recreation, and physical therapy, and a 25yard, four-lane lap pool for instruction, recreation, and training. The latter pool will have a longer shallow end for instruction and a nine-foot deep end for lifeguard certification.
Ms. Iudicone thanked former and current members of the foundation’s board and the East Hampton Town Board, members of which were in attendance.
“Our community is so fortunate to have civic-minded residents who care deeply for the place they call home, and will need to continue to build upon this deep belief and conviction, as our work is not yet done,” she said, referring to ongoing fund-raising for a second floor, multiuse cultural center. “But for today, the community center, starting with the aquatic center, is ready to be a space where all of us can come together now and into the future. Today, we break ground on our third place, and I can’t wait to see you there.”
The town’s $5 million commitment to the project, the foundation’s fund-raising, and private donations made the groundbreaking for a center where swim instruction and water safety will be taught possible. “This is an example of what community is truly all about,” said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, “and that’s what really makes Montauk special, the community.”
“Everybody’s had a part in this, whether it was a bake sale, a movie night, a gala fund-raiser,” he said. “Your contributions to your community are going to be represented in this aquatic center, and it’s just a wonderful, wonderful thing.”
“As development pressure and sky-high prices continue to bear down on this region,” said Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, “we see, again and again, folks in Montauk stepping up to ensure that the community remains an authentic, caring, well-connected community.” The aquatic center, she said, “is a great example of that, to provide access to folks not only for recreation but also for training and water safety for the community, just a critically important thing to do.”
With that, the town board and foundation board were the first to put shovels into dirt.