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Newsday (New York)
Residents across the Town of North Hempstead are divided over whether to pay increased taxes for pool renovations at New Hyde Park's Clinton G. Martin Park or ask town officials to rebid the project in hopes of garnering a lower construction price.
During a community meeting Monday night at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, town council members took up a three-hour gauntlet of questions and criticisms from residents on why the renovations were first estimated at $14.6 million but now could cost as much as $23 million.
Supervisor Judi Bosworth told about 80 residents at the meeting that 19 companies expressed interest in renovating the pool, but that only two submitted bids. Wyandanch-based Philip Ross Industries' price tag was $19,035,000, and Gramercy Group of Wantagh placed a bid of $19,474,000. If the town accepts either proposal, the average homeowner in the New Hyde Park Special Park District would pay about $100 more a year in taxes, officials say.
Council members expected the town would pay about $14.6 million for the project when they announced the pool face-lift last summer. Bosworth and other town leaders said the gap between the town's estimate and the bids was a shock.
"We really were as upset as you were," said Councilman Angelo Ferrara, whose district encompasses the park and the pool. "This is the first time we had a shocker like this and it was ridiculous."
The pool is closed and cannot be reopened without the renovations, town officials said. Though residents are split over what to do next, most agreed that they don't want the pool closed for more than one summer.
Robert Spina, of New Hyde Park, said he thinks the town should select one of the companies because he fears that rebidding the project might garner even higher estimates. But resident Jim Blandeburgo told council members they should start over because choosing a company now feels somewhat rushed.
"And I know whenever I rush a decision, it's always a bad decision," Blandeburgo said. "I just hope you guys take that into consideration."
Ferrara said residents' comments will help the council make its final decision. The council will vote Monday on a pool plan.
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