Bayside-based swim school Saf-T-Swim is planning on opening a new location in New Hyde Park in 2014, having entered a long-term lease at the former Volkswagon dealership at 1 Jericho Turnpike at the northeast corner of Jericho Turnpike and Cherry Lane.
A special use hearing was held for the proposed business on October 15 at the village hall.
According to the swim school’s attorney William Garbarino of Sayville, the location has 28,161 sq. ft. of usable space out of a total 22,800 sq. ft. within the building. Saf-T-Swim would use 13,800 sq. ft of that with the remaining 14,000 to be leased as office/ retail space.
Kenneth Hazen of Medford, one of the district managers of the business’s six locations,
said that the school has almost 29 years of teaching infants through adults water safety and survival skills. Hazen’s brother James founded the company, opening their first location in Bay Shore in 1983. Kenneth started working there in 1994.
Hazen said that Saf-T-Swim has recently started a partnership with schools and daycare centers to provide water safety education to 12,500 students, describing it as a “character assembly” saying that it’s “all informational, it’s not instructional.”
The business has about 500 part-time employees; most of which are local according to Hazen, ranging from high school to college-aged. All are CPR-certified lifeguards trained in first-aid and teach children one-on-one. Currently the swim school has 10 locations across Long Island.
The nearest location to New Hyde Park is Westbury and East Meadow, with other Nassau County locations being in Bellmore and Oceanside. The school also plans on opening a location in Levittown after purchasing a building.
“There’s a big need here because in Westbury we saw so many people from Queens... we get a lot of people that go to Westbury from this area and west,” Hazen said.
Each class runs about 30 minutes and “depending on the time of day a child and instructor, we can have anywhere from two or three instructors in the pool up to 16-17 instructors in the pool,” Hazen said. Pools are heated to between 86-90 degrees and are generally between three to 5 ft. in depth.
“When we’re doing lessons, we’re holding the kids,” Hazen said of the youngest students. “The kids can learn to start getting swimming lessons as early as one years of age.”
The busiest period for the school comes from the end of February to early March running until July/ early August. Costs for six 30-min weekly classes run from $249 to $160 depending on frequency. Saf-T-Swim also provides lessons for infants up until six months of age for free as well as also offering “low-impact” exercise program. The business also fields non-competitive swim teams.
“This is a basic instruction to get more kids water-safe; to prevent drowning,” Hazen said. “Our main focus is anywhere from three years to five years.”
The school plans to construct a rectangular pool 58-ft. long by 21-22 ft. in width inside the building. The maximum pool capacity is 68-80 people. The construction for gutting the building and digging of a pool would take between three to 9 months at a cost of $750,000.
The school would be in operation during morning hours from 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Weekends they would be open from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., but Hazen said that could go as late as 8:30 p.m. Birthday parties can also be held at the location, consisting of 24 children for up to 2 hours, but are primarily held on weekends from 3:30 p.m. onwards, outside of classes
Garbarino said that most parents drop off their children then return after class is over.
The business has 27 parking spots said to be in an adjacent garage available plus seven additional spaces on-street.
“We feel from the experience that we’ve had in all the other locations that this is more than sufficient parking,” Garbarino said.
The case was labeled with a SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) resolution along with a negative declaration and a referral to the Nassau County Planning Commission. The Nassau County Planning Commission will make a judgment on the case within the next 30 days.