The Parks Department asked North Brooklynites to “go to town” at a meeting earlier this month to discuss the future of Greenpoint’s long-shuttered McCarren Pool — and residents let their imaginations run wild to envision everything from a sandy beach to summer movies to urban kayaking.
Oh, and plenty of people at the June 13 meeting wanted to see the McCarren Pool again be a … pool.
The Bloomberg Administration recently pledged $50 million to restore the 70-year-old edifice as part of the mayor’s PlaNYC.
The Depression-era McCarren Pool was closed in 1983 for renovation, but remained shuttered at the urging of neighbors who, after years of municipal neglect, saw it as little more than a spot for crime.
Now, there’s a critical mass urging the facility to be restored. But first, “we’re trying to build consensus,” said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel.
Such “consensus” has been elusive. The site was going to be cleared in 1988, but preservationists successfully fought to save the building, with its iconic arch and bathhouses. But it has continued to rot.
In 2001, a compromise plan was approved, but scuttled when the money vanished from the city budget.
Among suggestions likely to be seen in the final drawings are: an amphitheater suitable for movies and concerts, indoor event spaces, an ice skating rink, and a skate park.
Longtime pool advocate Beth Goldowitz was pleased with the discussion, but worried it encouraged a proposal “geared towards single use people like ice hockey players or skaters.”
But Councilman David Yassky (D–Williamsburg) said such squabbling could be avoided because the Parks Department is calling in all the interested parties early in the process.
The already hired design team — which will be fully on board in September — will digest the suggestions and present preliminary plans to Community Board 1 at the end of the year.
Work could begin as early as spring, 2009, Spiegel said.
In addition to all the other potential uses, the McCarren Park Pool will, of course, one day also become a pool — though when finished, the basin won’t be as big as it was in 1936, when then-Mayor LaGuardia cut the ribbon and said, “No pool anywhere has been as much appreciated as this one.”