March 27, 2024

Nassau Swim Club is Essential Part of PU’s Value, Goodwill Toward Wider Community

To the Editor:

Last week, one month after you published the devastating news “Nassau Swim Club Lease Terminated,” I was again dismayed to hear from those fighting to save this community pool that Princeton University had again refused to grant them the three-year extension for which they have pleaded for months, to give them a more reasonable amount of time in which to organize “members who expressed willingness to support the club with a range of volunteer tasks as well as financial contributions; plans for a capital fundraising campaign among current members and NSC alumni; optimistic plans for a strengthened 2024 budget; extensive plans for increasing membership in the University and IAS communities and in the larger Princeton area; and innovative programs for children” [February 21, page 1].

The night before an open house which the University had been informed had been planned for this past Friday, March 22, to raise further membership, funding, and public support, a University administrator emailed the NSC Board to restate their determination to close the Club and demolish the pool, repeating their perspective that “the ability of the Club to meet its financial and operational obligations remains doubtful” (“Retrospective,” published on NSC’s website). The timing of this refusal could only work to ensure the continued doubtfulness of NSC’s financial competence. In any case it leaves no room for benefit of doubt, with so much at stake for the town and community.

It is understandable that Princeton University does not want to be in the pool business. It is costly and there is competition from better-supported pools like Community Park and the costly new one at the Life Time fitness center. On the other hand, the Nassau Swim Club has been a precious resource for a truly diverse community for 60 years. There are Princeton families who have enjoyed summers at this community pool in the woods for multiple generations. It supports families, health and well-being, and community, all in one idyllic place. It is one of the few places I know in Princeton where town residents can gather for exercise, recreation, and community with members of the University and Institute for Advanced Study communities. Beyond all this, the Nassau Swim Club offers swimming lessons and swim teams for children all over Princeton, increasing their well-being, health, and safety.

The University may not want to be in the pool business, but it should be in the business of extending its resources for the benefit of the Town and neighboring institutions. The Nassau Swim Club is an essential part of the University’s value and goodwill toward the wider community in the town of Princeton. Its value to the town’s diverse communities is greater than the cost of supporting a grassroots volunteer organization that is working so hard to better hold up its part of the bargain.

April Alliston
Basin Street