Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bridge Park wants you to help design new Squibb pool

September 4, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Bridge Park wants residents to help design a permanent pool at Squibb Park, which sits just above Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn Heights. Community meetings will be held on Sept. 12 and 16. This rendering is a general representation of the proposed pool. Rendering courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Will Heights be able to manage the crowds?

It’s not often that New York City residents get to help design a new public swimming pool.

But that’s what’s happening in Brooklyn Heights, where Brooklyn Bridge Park is overseeing the construction of a public pool in little-used Squibb Park.

The pool will be a permanent replacement for the park’s beloved but temporary Pop-Up Pool, just wrapping up its final season.

While Squibb Park is not actually a part of Brooklyn Bridge Park, in an agreement with the city, Brooklyn Bridge Park will be overseeing the new pool’s development, operation and maintenance.

Squibb Park sits just above Brooklyn Bridge Park on Columbia Heights. It is connected to Brooklyn Bridge Park via the often-broken Squibb Bridge footbridge.

Brooklyn Bridge Park says it wants public input on the new swimming hole “to ensure that the design of the pool reflects the needs and interests of the community.”

Two identical community sessions will be held at P.S. 8 at 37 Hicks St., the first on Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 6-8:30 p.m. and the second on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 2-4:30 p.m. The park asks that people attend just one of the meetings.

A Beach with Chairs or More Swim Lanes?

The park will be getting residents’ opinions on issues like the preferred size and depth of the pool, types of amenities people want there (such as green space, a beach with chairs, accessibility or classes), and types of food concessions.

Another decision is what to do with the facility during the off season. Possibilities mentioned include yoga and exercises classes, a holiday market or a skate park, but the park is open to other ideas.

What About the Crowds?

But the park also says it wants to hear people’s concerns about whether Squibb Park is the right location altogether for a new public pool.

Roughly five million visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park were predicted for the summer of 2018, a number wildly exceeding the city’s earlier estimates on expected park traffic. On Aug. 9, the New York Times called Brooklyn Bridge Park “one of the city’s most crowded parks.”

A number of Heights residents have expressed concern about the huge influx of park goers tramping through the neighborhood, in some cases causing disruption and damage.

The 84th Precinct assigned eight additional police to the park over the summer to help manage the crowds and occasional outbreaks of violence.

In a discussion forum in the Brooklyn Heights Blog, a commenter who calls himself Heights Guy wrote in July, “I bought in Brooklyn Heights for many reasons; one of them was the quietness of the neighborhood. I am not against the park. I like the park. I simply wish I had my quiet neighborhood back.”

In an online opinion survey, the park includes questions on how people feel about “pedestrian traffic that the new pool might cause in the park or surrounding neighborhoods” and “the number of people that might come to the pool.” Another asks people to rank their concern about traffic congestion.

A group of parents whose kids have been swimming at the Pop-Up Pool, however, are wildly enthusiastic about getting a permanent pool.

“I think the park is probably going to outdo themselves ultimately by creating an amazing design,” Love Our Pool member Lee Levine, who was a regular at the Pop-Up Pool with his son Izzy, told the Eagle when the new pool was announced in June. “The community’s going to be involved in the design of the park this summer, and I’m really excited it’s determined by community input, people who use the pool, as opposed to someone who’s detached.”

The construction of the pool is estimated to cost from $10-$15 million. Officials said they hope for completion to be finished sometime in 2020.