Making waves: Swim fans demand Bridge Park keep pool open

Pool warrior: State Sen. Daniel Squadron urged Brooklyn Bridge Park to keep the beloved pop-up pool open until it comes up with a concrete plan for a permanent swimming hole in the green space.
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

Hands off that spigot!

Brooklyn Bridge Park officials must keep the park’s beloved “pop-up” pool intact beyond its planned expiration date of Sept. 5 until they find a way to bring a permanent swimming hole to the waterfront green space, families and pols demanded at a rally last Thursday afternoon.

“The pop-up pool has made a big splash, we can’t let it dry up at the end of the summer,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who organized the rally alongside advocacy group Love Our Pool. “We shouldn’t lose it until we have a concrete plan to open a permanent pool.”

Dozens of kids and parents from across the borough waved signs expressing their love for the 60-person public bath at the foot of Orange Street near Pier 2, which the park plans to close at the end of summer to make way for more green space with a so-called “water play feature” instead.

The splashy amenity has been open for the past five summers, but the semi-private organization that runs the park says the pool was always meant to go down the drain at the end of this summer, and it doesn’t have the funds to keep it around.

That will be a blow to swimmers from all over the borough, according to Squadron — he did a survey that found 80 percent of pool-goers come from outside Brooklyn Heights, and 60 percent of them swim exclusively in the waterfront lagoon.

Fans say their drab neighborhood pools just aren’t as inviting as the Brooklyn Bridge Park alternative, which boasts great views of the Manhattan skyline and surrounding parkland, as well as an adjacent sandy beach area for sunbathing.

“It’s our little vacation spot, it’s the first thing the kids look forward to when school is out,” said Brownsville resident Nancy McCarthy, who brings her kids to swim in the park several times a week. “I am so happy it’s here and I’m praying it will stay open.”

Park honchos remained unmoved by the protest, however, maintaining that the pool must be demolished at the end of the season.

The pop-up pool is next door to the under-construction luxury Pierhouse condominium complex — one of several controversial private developments in the park that officials say they need to finance its ongoing maintenance — whose advertising materials show lush parkland on the site.

The officials say the best chance of a permanent pool is to host an independently financed facility floating offshore in the East River, but the designers of its main proposal — a private project called +Pool that would use filtered river water — have only raised $1 million of the $20 million they need to make the fantastical idea a reality, this paper revealed last month.

Borough President Adams and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), who also joined the rally, said they’d be willing to earmark some of their taxpayer slush funds to either keep the pop-up pool open or create a permanent one within the green space.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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