Inside the city’s McCarren Park Pool project

Inside the city’s McCarren Park Pool project
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

That pile of dirt and concrete slabs over there? That’ll be a shallow platform complete with shower fountains at the front of the new McCarren Park Pool.

The spare brick façade with exposed concrete ceilings and copper piping to the left of the entrance? That’ll be the new gym and conditioning area.

That hollowed-out open pit? That’ll be the two Olympic-size pools and the world-class diving area.

And that empty feeling in Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s booming residential heart? Gone.

The Parks Department gave us a sneak preview last week of its most-important restoration project in perhaps all of New York City — the $50-million, three-year conversion of the Robert Moses-era McCarren Park Pool from a long-shuttered scar into a thriving public amenity.

And the good news is that the project is on schedule, set to open for business in the summer of 2012.

“Right now, construction crews are doing exterior brickwork, cleaning stone that will be reused, doing cement work for the pool deck, and patching cement floors and ceiling beams,” said Stephanie Thayer, the Parks Department’s overseer for North Brooklyn. “Interior work and duct work has begun as well as work on the interior steel staircase for the mezzanine.”

The iconic public pool has sat dry since 1984, though it hosted summer concerts and special events from 2005 to 2008. A groundswell of community support over two decades, including backing from Community Board 1 and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg), caused Mayor Bloomberg to allocate millions in capital funding from the city.

That funding has already contributed towards renovations to clean its heavily vandalized brick and concrete walls and floors, and a bevy of amenities.

The work is one-third complete, parks officials said during a walk-through of the space this week, and the project remains on schedule and on budget after construction began last December.

The brick atrium at the pool’s main entrance on Lorimer Street is one of the main focal points in the restoration, as the arched entranceway will remain open to the elements with a refurbished ticket counter in its center.

“We’re restoring the arch to its original character to preserve its historic integrity,” said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey.

The site resembles an archaeological excavation more than a pool, with paint lines signifying pipes and wiring dotting the floor and metal spikes protruding from a patch of dirt at the center of the pool, where a raised concrete “beach” will be filled.

A rusted diving platform sitting at the east end of the pool will soon be removed—in favor of a new volleyball court.

The crown jewel of the project — the pool itself where a lap swimming program and general swim area will coexist — has been gutted and drilled for new pipes and electrical work that will soon be installed.

A view of the refurbished McCarren Park Pool which will contain areas for both free swimming and laps.
Photo provided by NYC Parks Department