By: Isabella Marinello
Whether playing a sport, going to camp as a child, playing basketball with friends, having a workout membership, or learning how to swim, the Caldwell Community Center holds a special place in everyone’s hearts within the Caldwell/West Caldwell community. So, when news struck about a possible permanent shut down due to the Coronavirus Pandemic the community was in disbelief. Many community members took the time to make petitions and signs to protest the closing of the center. One petition was made by James Caldwell Junior, Ava Castiglia, who stated “I’ve been swimming at the Community Center since I moved here, and pretty much everyone I know utilizes it in some way- whether it is the fields, gym, etc.” Castiglia is one of the many swim team members that are passionate about keeping the place they grew up swimming at alive.
The Community Center Council has formed a task force, with members of the force chosen based on a survey they had taken. The force met over the course of many months, and discussed many topics, including the summer camp, pool, finances, fitness, and marketing. The members met over a zoom call that was open for people of the community to come join and offer their input too. There were many rumors circulating about the center, how it may be sold and become a “done-deal” that the public could do nothing about. This has been proven false, but rumors of the Center becoming apartment buildings or houses could be true. As of right now, the Center is in a “two year trial period” to see how it will do financially and if people are really as passionate as they said they were about it. Many surveys on the Community Center’s website regarding the shut down were also misleading, and led the public to believe that the center was making no money. This was not entirely the case, and some speculated that the members who wanted to build houses on that land wanted to make the public believe that they were making no money so they could do so.
What the public knows is that the Community Center will open in the winter only for the West Essex, Caldwell, Verona, and Glen Ridge swim teams. The teams will have shorter seasons and the Center will run from December to February, which is a much shorter season than usual. The Cyclones Club Swim Team usually practices all year long at the community center, but because of the pandemic and the closing of the center, they were denied access. The four teams that were permitted access to use the pool will split the cost. James Caldwell senior Captain and Cyclones club swimmer Grace Zamloot explained “I never thought that my senior year would be like this. I have spent many years and hours training at the Community Center. It has become my second home and a place where I met some of my closest friends. The Community Center is a home to many and should stay open and keep their traditions alive.”