Are Taxpayers’ Funds Being Wasted With Rental Of Felix Festa School Pool?

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To: Editor Rockland Voice
From: Julie Globus
Subject: Are taxpayer dollars being wasted by ill-conceived practices associated with the rental of the Felix Festa Middle School pool as the facility slowly deteriorates?

Over the course of the last six years, the taxpayers of the town of Clarkstown have paid upwards of $250,000 per year in lost revenue to support Trustee Robert Alan Carlucci and his long-time team the Condors Swim Club of Clarkstown Inc. The pool has been under the nearly exclusive command and control of Carlucci and his team for years. Any attempts to change that have been met objections by Carlucci’s supporters.

Over the course of the last six years, Trustee Robert Alan Carlucci has drowned out any competition, including Todd Langermeyer’s New York Sharks and more recently the Phoenix Aquatic Club by defining the very policies that would allow competing teams to grow and more Clarkstown children to benefit. Even President Mike Aglialoro, in a speech on August 15, 2015, welcomed the growth of the Condors (over any other team), acknowledging the sweetheart pricing they had been awarded to that point.

The residents of Clarkstown have financially supported the endeavors of Robert Alan Carlucci and/or members of his family. Meanwhile, the Natatorium facilities are deteriorating.

In return for the losses incurred by the pool, money moved from one line item to another; Teachers’ Assistants have been fired, programs have been cut or dramatically reduced, money has been washed down the drain and the pool has spent years deficient of proper maintenance and upkeep. This was acknowledged by David Gosman, one of the members of the Facilities’ Use Committee set up to define new policy last summer, when he then stated that money would need to be invested in the pool this summer.

Documents obtained from CCSD foils suggest that over the course of many years the Carlucci team maintained itself a 501(c)(3) entity; and swimmer registration information on the Metro Swimming website unequivocally proves that the Carlucci team has under-reported its non-resident swim members for the purposes of preferred pricing, all costing Clarkstown taxpayers money. This tactic has worked under both the pre-2015 policies and the post-2015 policies.

Carlucci’s Condors Swim Club has monopolized the pool and forced out competing teams, a move supported by the Board of Education in Clarkstown despite the damage to Clarkstown taxpaying swimmers. In the early years of his tenure, he worked against Langermeyer’s Sharks to keep them out of the water. Now he is working with Edgar Perez to keep Clarkstown swimmers who don’t swim for the Sharks or the Condors out of the water.

In July of 2015, with the included participation of Edgar Perez and his new New York Sharks, the school board voted to change the rules governing pool use and pricing. Edgar Perez made clear that he was not planning to use the pool except for meets and that did not want to create any issues. The Board of Education, in an effort to assist the Sharks over the resident team competing with Carlucci’s Condors consulted with the Sharks to decide the new pricing scheme, again to the detriment of Clarkstown taxpayers and CCSD youth swimmers, only a handful of which, by Perez’s own admission comprise the New York Sharks.

The New York Sharks, by Perez’s own words is not a Clarkstown team. The team swims at South Orangetown Middle School, Rockland Community College and another pool in the Northern Hudson Valley. Only a handful of the Sharks swimmers are Clarkstown resident swimmers and yet they still seem to be afforded favored swim team status with the Condors, again harming CCSD children.

On May 26, 2016 the Sharks’ coach along with what appears to be his partner or pseudo partner, Elizabeth Siebert, were pitching to the town of Orangetown a pool that would be “home” to the Sharks. In the article, she is referred to as Elizabeth Kim. With the advent of that pool, there would finally be another “attractive” location for swim teams in Rockland County that could host meets. Such an entity could result in significant reduction of fees paid to CCSD for pool use, particularly if the Felix Festa Natatorium pool is not properly maintained and therefore less attractive.

On July 1, 2016 Robert Alan Carlucci will be replaced on the school board. However, it is unclear from current events whether he will lose any measure of control of the pool. From information available on the Metro Swimming website regarding registered swimmers, he continues to provide numbers that strategically exclude non-Clarkstown Condors team members who train at Felix Festa to avoid a higher blended rate, costing the taxpayers of Clarkstown tens of thousands of dollars.

Both the Condors Swim Club of Clarkstown Inc. and the New York Sharks now owned by Edgar Perez are refusing to allow the Phoenix into the pool during swim meets, effectively harming every Clarkstown resident child who swims for the Phoenix. They make up a class of Clarkstown residents who are damaged by the activity and policies of the current regime.

It may be, once again, time to revisit the structure, pricing and accountability for the use of the Felix Festa Middle School Pool. Perez’s Sharks by his own admission are not a Clarkstown resident team. It may be time to finally protect our Clarkstown swimmers, and play fair in the water. If a non-resident team wants into the water, all CCSD resident children should be given priority which means they must not be excluded from meets.

It might be time to afford the CCSD residents a true-up of costs and fees and do what’s best for the taxpayers and children of CCSD. Finally, it is undoubtedly time to invest in the pool. If a new facility is to be built, CCSD can’t afford a significant deterioration of the current facility which would make it less attractive, a concern voiced during last summer’s meetings.

In more ways than one, the costs to CCSD taxpayers would increase exponentially.

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