Everyone in the pool — for real

The Brooklyn Paper
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This time, the restoration of the McCarren Park Pool is really going to happen. No, really.

Parks Department officials promised as much on Feb. 13 when they unveiled new renderings of a lushly restored pool — though many in the community greeted the gorgeous pictures with an arched eyebrow.

“I hope it happens, but so far, not much has actually happened,” said Laura Hoffman, a long-time Greenpointer. “Who knows if it’ll actually get built? There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of nice planning over the years.”

Indeed, since the Depression-era pool closed in 1984, two restoration plans have wended their way through the bureaucratic maze, only to be quashed by unforeseen events.

In 1985, preservationists killed plans for a year-round recreation center and Olympic-sized pool at the site — already funded with $10 million — arguing that the bathhouses on either side of the iconic arched entryway should be preserved.

Momentum picked up again to reopen the pool in the late 1990s, culminating in 2001 with the similar, though pricier, $21-million “Vollmer Plan.” Community activists were foiled again, this time by 9-11.

This time, the Bloomberg administration has allocated $50 million toward the restoration of the pool. Officials say construction should begin by early next year.

“Although McCarren Pool has had a long, and at times uncertain, history, we assure residents that a new pool is forthcoming,” said Phil Abramson, a Parks Department spokesman.

“Thanks to the mayor, funds are finally in our budget, and there is also a greater amount of community consensus than ever before,” he added.

The design calls for reopening both the entire mammoth pool, which can hold up to 6,800 people, and the deeper diving pool. The two bathing houses would be turned into a year-round recreation center that would include locker rooms, fitness facilities, restrooms, showers and a gymnasium.

There would also be a skating rink in winter.

It all sounds great, but given the history, the latest Parks Department promises were met with some skepticism.

“It’s been so frustrating,” said Tom Gilbert, who was involved in the 2001 effort.

Some of the neighborhood’s residents are also upset that the plan will, after this summer, displace what has become a popular concert series at the pool. Starting in 2006, the pool has hosted bands like Beastie Boys and Disco Biscuits, and a number of film screenings.

The pool complex, completed in 1936, sits on Lorimer Street, between Driggs and Bedford avenues.

Updated 5:05 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Barbara from Clinton Hill says:
I think it is wonderful to have a refurbished and beautiful pool for everyone. However, it is interesting that Mayor Bloomberg's office can find $50 Mil to fund this, yet no one can seem to find much at all for Fort Greene Park's restoration in Brooklyn - not to mention the fact that NYC's budget neglected America's most important American Revolutionary War crypt for over 50 years with the remains of over 11,500 POW's, with more dead there than Valley Forge. If those men hadn't died for our country, you surely wouldn't have a beautiful big pool to swim in, among other things.
Feb. 28, 2008, 4:08 am

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