Cheers as Pop-Up Pool reopens in Brooklyn Bridge Park for one more season
Received a one year reprieve after parents, Squadron campaigned
Summer returned to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday with the reopening of the popular Pop-Up Pool, and dozens of kids and their parents showed their happiness by splashing, paddling and kicking their way across its cool, blue waters.
The 30-by-50-foot pool, only 3 ½ feet deep, has been a big hit with parkgoers, who come from both the nearby neighborhood and from across the borough to enjoy a free swim.
“We’re so happy that the pool is open,” said mom Michelle and her children William and Emma. “It’s our only relief in our neighborhood and it’s amazing — they have so much fun.”
This swimming season almost didn’t happen. After a determined campaign by Brooklyn families and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (Brooklyn waterfront, lower Manhattan), the Pop-Up Pool received a one-year extension after its original five year term expired at the end of last summer.
Amy Bieberdorf, one of the organizers of the volunteer group Love Our Pool, told the Brooklyn Eagle that members gathered more than 1,300 signatures from more than 30 Zip codes to ensure that the pool stays open in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The organizers of Love Our Pool were awarded a community service award by the Brooklyn Heights Association last March.
“Our work allowed us to extend the pool for a year,” she said. “We’d like to see a permanent pool planned and funded before they close this pool.”
Lee Levine and his son Izzy were hanging out on the sandy beach next to the pool and concession stand, awaiting their 45-minute turn. Izzy learned to swim at the Pop-Up Pool, Levine said.
“He started at 4; now he’s about to turn 8,” Levine said. “He’s an advanced swimmer and we owe it all to the pool. Because four-days-in-a-row swim lessons created enough momentum that, unlike doing once a week swim lessons, he was able on the fourth day to finally put his face in the water. And that was four years ago.”
Levine said that he and Izzy “are very happy that the pool is open. I’ve worked very hard in the last year as a representative of Love Our Pool to make sure of that. Our goal now is to keep the pool open as long as necessary until we get a replacement.”
May pop-down at the end of the season
Squadron, who secured the pool in 2010, warned in a statement on Thursday that the pool is at risk of closure again, as the city has not yet committed to extending the pool beyond this season.
“Last summer, over 1,000 community members came together in our call to save the pool — a call ultimately backed by the city and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. Now, as we face the potential final season of the pool again, it’s urgent the city commit to keep the pool in place as we continue the push for a permanent pool in the park,” Squadron said.
The Pop-Up Pool was never intended to be permanent, however.
“We love the pop up pool too! However, per the 2011 MOU negotiated by Sen. Squadron, it was always planned and designed to be temporary, and for more parkland to be created at the site,” former park spokesperson Belinda Cape told the Eagle in June 2016.
Is + Pool a possibility?
One potential solution that has been mentioned is the + Pool, an innovative structure that would float in the river and use filtered river water, but that project appears years from completion and its final location is undetermined.
Kara Meyer, deputy director of + Pool (pluspool.org), told the Eagle that the technology was solid but the project was moving slowly for other reasons.
“We need to do site-specific design work and apply for permits, but it’s very complicated in terms of identifying a site that’s technically feasible but also has the right timing and access and ability to connect to the land. It’s just a long process for learning,” she said.
She added, “Any time you do something this massive for a city like New York that’s super complicated in terms of permitting and private-public partnerships and funding and all these things, there’s no one single thing that I can point to and say, ‘Oh, this is why it’s taking so long.’”
See www.brooklynbridgepark.org for pool hours and instructions.
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