One week after the city announced that it would close the Douglass-Degraw pool this summer, the neighborhood’s councilman called the move disastrous and vowed to open the watering hole for his sweating constituents.
“A lot of families depend on this pool for free recreation,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), who convened a meeting on Monday night at an overheated church on Atlantic Avenue to galvanize area support. “We need this pool for our kids to stay active and out of trouble.”
The Parks Department claims that a budget shortfall will prevent it from opening the pool, located along Nevins Street between Douglass and Degraw streets. Keeping the pool closed when other public pools reopen on June 29 will save the agency a mere $200,000, the city said.
The “Double-D” pool was targeted because its attendance numbers are lower than other pools, and it is in an area that is largely industrial. But the fact is that the pool cooled 37,800 people last year and is mere blocks away from three large housing projects. It also also attracts bathers from surrounding Brownstone Brooklyn.
An online petition and a Facebook page were quickly created to convince the city to reverse course. So far, they’ve attracted hundreds of signatures and members, respectively.
Levin said the tsunami of activity would only help the cause. “It makes a very compelling case when you say that you have 800 signatures in just one week,” he said.
Pool users are desperate for the city to heed their cyber-pleas.
“This is a teeming oasis in a neighborhood that doesn’t have too many things like it,” said Howard Kolins, the president of the Boerum Hill Association. “It is a small thing, but to many, it’s a big thing.”
For the smallest residents near the pool, the closure is catastrophic.
“I want to punch the guy in the face that thought [closing the pool] was a good idea!” said 7-year-old pool fan Caleb Pitney.
The pool is also a cool break for parents — particularly families without air conditioning.
“This is sort of how we get through July and August,” said Wyckoff Street resident Jessica Hartshorn.
Along with the pool, Levin’s district also faces the closure of two day care centers and a senior center in the Gowanus Houses. Levin called the confluence of bad news “an unfortunate coincidence,” rather than the result of a powerful mayor picking on a freshman lawmaker.
The city’s $62-billion budget must be passed by the end of the month, and word of the pool’s fate will come by then.
“This is not a done deal,” the lawmaker vowed.
The savings represent three-millionths of the city budget.