Brooklyn Heights

Time to get cracking on a permanent pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park, officials say

Popular Pop-Up Pool will be dismantled after this summer

April 19, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Local officials say Brooklyn Bridge Park needs to start working on a plan for a pool there during the summer of 2019. Shown: Dozens of families cooled off in the Pop-Up Pool on opening day last June. Photos by Mary Frost
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The insanely popular Pop-Up Pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park will be dismantled after this summer’s season, and the pressure is building to get a substitute in place before the dog days of 2019.

The thousands of kids who splash in the pool come from both nearby neighborhoods and from across the borough, local officials said.

“The pool fills a gap in Brooklyn, which has too few public pools,” state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Councilmember Stephen Levin said in a letter to the park’s President Eric Landau this week. They called the pool “an indispensable and treasured amenity in Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

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The park can either come up with a temporary solution, such as moving the Pop-Up Pool elsewhere in the park for another season, or get started on building a permanent pool, the officials said. In either case, the park’s board needs to get cracking immediately, officials said.

“Given that creating and siting a new pool will undoubtedly take significant time and financial resources, we urge you to begin the process now, and to work with us, community residents and other stakeholders expeditiously to identify and implement a long-term plan for maintaining pool service with no lapse, including the possibility of a temporary solution that can be implemented until a more permanent one is available,” they wrote.

The 30-by-50-foot temporary watering hole, situated upland of Pier 2’s basketball courts, was slated to close after the 2016 season, But after a determined campaign by parents group Love Our Pool, the attraction received a one-year extension. This past September, the pool received another reprieve — but the park says this is definitely, absolutely the last one, because construction will start in September where the pool now sits.

The new Pier 2 uplands will include a bowl-shaped grassy swath, a water play area and meandering paths.

“The pop-up-pool is a terrific resource and amenity in Brooklyn Bridge Park and we’re thrilled that we found a way to extend it for one more season this summer,” Landau told the Brooklyn Eagle in a statement on Wednesday. He said, however, that the park was also excited about breaking ground on the Pier 2 uplands project.

“We look forward to working with our local elected officials and the community as we explore future options for swimming in Brooklyn Bridge Park,” he added.

An official source told the Eagle that no date has been set for discussions about pool options, but he felt that the park and the public are “all on the same side” on the issue.

The letter “begins the conversation,” he said.

Learning to swim

According to a 2016 survey released by former state Sen. Daniel Squadron, 63 percent of pool users live outside the park’s immediate area. The park is located on the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. About 80 percent of respondents ranked a pool as the most important feature for that part of the park.

Since 2012, hundreds of kids have learned to swim in the little pool. Lee Levine, a Love Our Pool representative, told the Eagle last June that his son Izzy learned to swim there.

“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.”

Love Our Pool’s organizers were awarded a community service award by the Brooklyn Heights Association in March 2017.

One long-term solution that has been discussed is the  + POOL, a plus-shaped, water-filtering, floating swimming pool, designed to filter river water that it floats in through the walls of the pool.

Since its introduction in 2010 (after which it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter), + POOL has successfully tested its innovative river filtration system and solar water heaters. But the city’s political and economic landscape is proving more complicated. The nonprofit says on its website that “each site along New York’s waterfront is operated by a dizzying gradient of different entities.”

+ Pool says it is working with the Mayor’s Office to identify a home. As part of the process, engineers studied a dozen sites all over New York City, including the Williamsburg waterfront and at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Hudson River Park.

“This is an insane process and taking much longer than we ever would have thought,” pool organizers said in a statement.



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