The Heat Is On As Legislator Tells
"Your Position Is My Position"
President of Freeport's
Northeast Civic Association, Bernie Smith (standing), introduces
Nassau County Legislator, Patrick Williams (seated in red shirt),
to residents and members of the association. Williams spent over
an hour with the group, most of it listening to the concerns of
BY Stewart Lilker
heightening of the summer's temperatures, the impending demolition of
Freeportís free public swimming pools is also rising high on everybodyís
agenda. Nassau County Legislator, Patrick Williams, made time to meet with
Freeportís Northeast Civic Association and residents from Freeport on
Thursday evening, June 28th.
Williams told the attendees that he met
with Mayor Glacken earlier in the day "to gather the facts." He
explained that Glacken told him that the pool at Martin Luther King Park
(MLK) was built in 1966 and was built as a result of people trying to keep
blacks "out of the Recreation (Rec) Center." One of the few
light moments of the evening occurred, when to everybodyís amusement, it
was pointed out to Legis. Williams, that the Rec Center wasnít built
until the seventies.
Williams said, Glacken explained that the
pool was only built with a useful life of six or seven years and that the
"Health Department imposes certain standards on pools." Williams
said Glacken claimed that it would "cost a million dollars" to
repair the pools and that it was not cost effective to repair them.
Williams concluded the findings of his meeting with Glacken, with Glackenís
explanation that "the number of people using the pools had
declined," explaining further that Glacken claimed to have only
received four calls about the closing of the pools and that his decision
was an administrative one.
Williams explained, "As a county
legislator, I have no power to stop what he is doing. I am here to listen
to you. I have no position."
Williams, referring to MLK Park, told the
gathering, "The condition of the pool is deplorable. I wouldnít
want it in front of my house."
When Williams said he would try and set up
a meeting for Friday between the group and Glacken, Bernie Smith, the
president of the Northeast Civic Association, said emphatically, "We
will meet with the Mayor on Monday night at Village Hall. The disrespect
that he has paid the community is not acceptable."
Resident George Coward told Williams,
"It doesnít need to be destroyed."
Claudina Bilbo said, "That pool is
the heart of the park. We are not going to settle for anything less."
Smith told Williams and the group,
"This is nothing more than total neglect."
Jim Taylor, frustrated with the busing of
the neighborhood's children said, "Iím tired of seeing our children
being bused from here to there."
Former Village Trustee candidate, Anna
Muhammed, explained that the park was built in the memory of Dr. Martin
Luther King, after his assassination. She said that as far as she could
remember, "Federal funds were used to construct the pools." Then
she told the Williams and the group, "They were against the park from
the beginning. This Mayor doesnít care about his constituents."
Another resident told Williams, "A
lot of folks canít afford the fees at the Rec Center."
Long time resident Rosland Reese,
resignedly told Williams, "We have a whole summer with children
sitting around doing nothing."
Williams sat patiently, listening to the
community. When it was brought up that legal action might be necessary to
stop the demolition, Williams said, "Iíll have my attorneys
research this. Iíll find you someone."
Everyone at the meeting was in favor of
opening the pools and saving them from the wreckerís ball.
Williams, apparently referring to Glacken,
explained to the group, "Iím nobodyís messenger."
The meeting concluded with Williams
telling the group, "Now that Iíve spoken to you -- My position is