April 10, 2024

PU Should Do the Right Thing and Open Nassau Swim Club This Summer

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to read last week that Princeton University intends to shut down the Nassau Swim Club (NSC), despite not having any use for that land and despite it being against their own financial interest to do so.

I don’t have any connection with either institution, but the move makes no sense and strikes me as arbitrary and mean-spirited.

According their website, NSC has already raised enough funding to not only open the pool for the 2024 season, but also to pay their current taxes and required maintenance costs. They are ahead of their business plan on reaching their (reasonable) membership and programs goals to fund the entire 2024 season, plus reimburse the University for one year of back taxes owed and build a capital reserve for future improvements. They’ve done everything reasonably asked of them this year, and more.

Quoting their site: “NSC is ready to go. The pool is on the path to having a successful season, if only it is allowed to open. Our intense efforts over the past couple months show that our team has the dedication and resources to overcome NSC’s remaining challenges. Moreover, our vigorous campaign to increase and retain membership will not only make NSC financially viable for years to come, but will allow the pool to have an even greater positive impact on the wider community.”

If instead the University proceeds with its plan to raze the $1+ million facility (again, with “no plans for use of the land” in this beautiful forest setting), then not only will a beloved 50-year community institution be lost forever, but the University would also lose all future payments of back taxes, plus have to pay the significant expense of pointless demolition.

In other words, on all levels including financially, Nassau Swim Club is worth much more alive than dead.

After the University has written generous checks to our municipality, school system, and county (thank you!), it oddly comes across as heartless to not participate when all that’s being asked is to simply be supportive. Having a $34 billion endowment is great, and talking about the well-being of your community is nice, but then you also have to walk the walk, don’t you?

Bottom line, the appearance of a rich university terminating the lease of a cherished community institution isn’t great optics. Did you miss your annual viewing of A Christmas Carol at McCarter?

Come on, Princeton. This is embarrassing. You’re better than this. Let the pool open. It means a lot to many people.

Please do the right thing and extend Nassau’s lease by just one year, so they can bring joy this summer to hundreds of local kids and families (including your own staff, students, and alumni), and so they can continue paying you back taxes. Then, next year, you can revisit and reassess. It costs you nothing; you lose nothing. What could you possibly gain by destroying it now?

Goodwill is hard to earn, but easy to lose. Thanks so much for listening.

James Bash
Harrison Street