Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

The New McCarren Pool Updated & Revealed

February 11th, 2009 · 6 Comments


The Parks Department and Rogers Marvel Architects presented an update on McCarren Pool to Community Board 1 last night. We have the renderings that were shown and also a report from Mikki Halpin of PoolAid of her impressions of the meeting. This is an excerpt of the email she sent out:

At the CB1 meeting last night, the architects, along with Julius Spiegel (Brooklyn Parks Commissioner) came to give a presentation on the pool. All of the fundng ($50 mill) is still in place, and they said it will be open in two years. It still looks the same as it did in the renderings from last year, basically–with the peninsula reaching into the pool and the water in a squared horse shoe shape. It will hold about 2500 people. The main buildings will hold a gym and a rec center/community center. They will build cabanas off the main buildings onto the pool deck to use as changing rooms. These are essentially concrete awnings that make an enclosure with benches and lockers and stuff inside. They looked kind of cool and modern to me.

Since the building is landmarked, not much is being changed, which is good. A lot of the work they have to do is rebuilding–replacing almost all of the exterior brick and resurfacing the entire pool and deck. They are using the old baskets from way back in the day as an architectural accent on the ceilings on some of the rooms, which is nice. Because they are redoing the exterior brick, it is now possible that they will be able to add a comfort station–parkspeak for restroom–on the end near the playground (I think) that would be available to all park users. That is only if the whole thing stays in scope and there are no cost overruns. They are making it all extensible–there are spaces for a future elevator and staircase up to the roof for a rooftop cafe if that comes into play with an outside vendor…The diving pool can’t be done at this time so they are going to fill it in with dirt, then put sand on top of the dirt and make it into a volleyball court. This doesn’t prevent it from becoming a diving pool at a later date, though. They are putting the pipes in for this. The peninsula is usable for a wintertime ice rink, which would be done with an outside vendor like Bryant Park.






And for those who are interested, this is the rest of Mikki’s email:

My concern was shade. The public isn’t allowed to ask questions, so it didn’t get asked, but as we all know, it is hot and bright in that pool, and will be more so with the sun reflecting off the water. I’m guessing Parks won’t let people bring umbrellas, so will they provide umbrellas? Another concern is that there is no lighting for the pool to be open past sunset. All NY pools close at dusk but it would be great to have the pool accessible at night. A lot of people work during the day and would like to swim at night and as we know, it is hot at night too! ALso it would be possible to do small performances at night on the peninsula, wth people seated around the pool. But maybe OSA will consider this stuff later.

Ok, then the weird thing happened. This woman Jen Peterson (I think) got up and she apparently used to be on the CB1 parks committee and was active back 20 years ago when the pool was supposed to be reopened and wasn’t. She made an odd speech about racial issues and she kept saying “this isn’t a racial thing” but the more she said that the more it seemed like it was? She said stuff about having to decide if this is a pool for families or for outsiders or something which sounded like code to me for “Greenpioint people or brown people from Southside.” I don’t know. It was fucked up and weird but no one seemed to take her seriously. Phyllis Yampolsky also spoke briefly (for those who don’t know, she is an awesome older lady who kept the pool from being destroyed and has been its protector for years). She made some good points about the symmetry of the pool and preserving some of the smaller arches, which, happily, the architect assured her had been done.

All in all I felt pretty good about the whole thing, except for the thing at the end. I’m going to count that as an anomaly for now.

We think the whole thing looks…yeah, we’re going to use this word…awesome.

Tags: Greenpoint · McCarren Pool · Williamsburg

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mikki // Feb 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Wow I feel famous!

  • 2 mikki // Feb 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    (And I notice you took out the part where I said I thought the roof cafe was a terrible idea:) Is Eric Peterson paying you off?)

  • 3 jojo dancer // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:10 am

    the ‘racial’ stuff has to do with the incident(s) that led to the pool being closed down back when, unlike the dozen or so other giant NYC city pools of similar vintage that still exist throughout the city, open every summer. there were tensions in those days between the Polish, Puerto Rican, Dominican + Italian quarters (all Catholics, mind you… no hipsters in sight, not really even weirdo artists yet); add to this black kids getting bussed in from somewhere… I’ve heard lots of versions of stories over the years, some including gangs; they are often dramatic, but I suspect really that somebody dated someone else’s sister, is all, like in west side story, which was found unacceptable… the pool was deliberately and badly damaged according to one version, to stop this kind of thing, and some kids went to jail maybe for it. dunno. worse stories are easy enough to imagine. but they closed it, and it stayed closed, until now, a decision made between condo rezonings, and before the current decapitalization started (I’m probably using that wrong…)

    what matters is things are quite different now, thank you, in Obamarama 2009-12. it will be our park rangers’ initiative and responsibility (and ours) to keep the peace and keep teens (+ up) on good behavior, what with all the hot stuff walking about. lifeguards shouting ‘keep it fun now’ by way of scolding at folks… a current parks boss said to me – in front of 3 other people – that they personally wanted hot tubs put in those alcoves. I told them if they did it they’d be re-elected for life, and I do suspect I’m right. we are the future, not the past, lovelies. it was a long time ago, some generations. intolerance will not be tolerated, or something like that, it’s the law, for a while now, yay america.

    ps – hey also: nightswimming! correct! – put lights in the pool for nightswimming! and shows yes, all sorts of shows, right while there’s water in the pool even, why not be ambitious. it’s williamsburg, after all, we have ridiculously high standards. leisure is important to us. we throw good parties, for a long time now, sort of famous for it. we have traditions to keep. someday let’s put steam rooms somewhere; and mist machines on that center roof… are there bikeracks?

  • 4 mikki // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    You’re a bit off on some of your history–see the poolaid.org site for more.

    Agree–night swimming! Write to OSA!

  • 5 woonsauce // May 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    williamsburg was lost to the hipsters a long time ago so i say just let them have it. gaurentee 75% of them would rather leave this as a performance space anyway

  • 6 Lillian Miller // Jun 15, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I think it is so great to finally renovate McCarren Pool. As a child growing up in Williamburg it was the highlight of my childhood. I looked so forward on the summer hot days to be fortunate enough to walk to neighborhood pool and enjoy the pool and feel safe.

    Good job!!

    It brings back memories.