Saugerties residents suggest ‘aquatic fitness center’ for Cantine

Cantine Field offers plenty of recreation opportunities, but no place to swim.

Local resident Dan Gelfand is trying to drum up interest in building a $5-million aquatic fitness center at the 120-acre Cantine Memorial Field complex. “It would be like the facility at Bard College and a fantastic investment for the future,” said Gelfand, a swim instructor at the YMCA in Kingston and the owner of a number of commercial buildings in the village of Saugerties.

Last year, Alex Rappoport, an award-winning cinematographer and film editor, went to a seminar in Virginia held by US Swimming Build-a-Pool program to learn about aquatic fitness centers, which are health and wellness locales that provide fitness for the body and mind. In an effort to judge community interest in such a facility at the Cantine complex, Rappoport invited a number of community leaders and local business owners to a focus meeting at the Frank Greco Senior Center Monday night.


Mark Smith, co-chair of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce who attended the meeting, said there “did seem to be an interest in such a facility.” Because Cantine is owned by the town of Saugerties and overseen by the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation, a number of approvals would be needed, including from Parks and Recreation, the town board and the town planning board. Additionally, the $5 million would have to be raised for construction of the facility, something that Gelfand believes would be doable.

Rappoport said experts in facility operations would be needed from outside the area.

There were no specifics on how the general public would be able to use the facility. The Cantine complex is open for public use. The proposed fitness center, which would have a pool, aquatic exercise areas and land-based exercise equipment, would be a club for members.

“It is important to stress that this would not be a recreational facility, but rather a community health center offering diverse education, fitness and training programs for both swimmers and non-swimmers of all ages and abilities,” Rappoport said in an email to members of the focus group.

The Bard College facility offers swimming, aquatic fitness classes, as well as the type of exercise equipment found in many health clubs.

Gelfand said he could see people from all over the tri-county area (Ulster, Greene, Columbia) coming to use this facility. “This would be a year round facility and would be a great place for kids to learn how to swim, and for older residents to exercise,” Gelfand said. “This is a terrific idea, and something the area could use.”

Read a letter from Alex Rappoport in response to this article: Letter: Saugerties pool report premature; community involvement sought

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