Wading the benefits: Officials want pool for masses in Bklyn Heights, but concerns about crowds remain

Water surprise!: Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders announced plans to build a permanent pool in Squibb Park, which overlooks the waterfront green space.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

They want this pool to make a splash — without dampening neighbors’ privacy.

Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders want the new public swimming hole they’re building in Squibb Park to be more than double the size of the beloved Pop-Up Pool it is replacing, according to consultants tapped to help plan the facility, but also asked neighbors to share their concerns about foot traffic a larger pool will draw to the tony enclave where residents have complained about unruly park-goers in the past.

“How do we design things that impact the surroundings?” said Tythe Design rep Kristina Drury, whose local firm was tapped by meadow stewards to collect input on the project. “We do want to hear concerns, we really encourage you to share ideas about how to mitigate them.”

Drury and green-space keepers at the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told locals they hope the eternal bath coming to the Middagh Street play space will fit between 150 and 300 people, up from the maximum of 60 that could cool off in the Pop-Up Pool that officials drained for good at the end of the swimming season this year.

Residents also weighed in on the type of facility — whether a lap pool, wading pool, or some hybrid of the two — in addition to floating ideas about other amenities they want to see in the space at the Sept. 12 meeting about the project.

Locals can also submit thoughts about the scheme via an online survey — which received roughly 1,500 responses, according to Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president Eric Landau — that asks participants to rank concerns about pedestrian traffic and the number of people that might come to the pool; to share their ethnicity; and whether they’d like features such as shaded areas, food vendors, and a skating area in the colder months.

The survey additionally asks residents to share ideas about possible changes to the current entrance ramp leading from Columbia Heights to Squibb Park — which has a second entry point from Brooklyn Bridge Park via the Squibb Bridge, but meadow stewards shuttered that zig-zagging span in July with no reopening date set — because construction of the pool may require reconfiguring the incline, according to Drury.

“We have an opportunity to approach that entrance in different ways,” she said.

Planners identified the blacktop-covered Squibb Park as the perfect location for the swimming hole based on costs, size, and feasibility, after ruling out other options that included permanently docking a pool-equipped barge similar to the “Floating Pool Lady” that briefly moored at a meadow pier back in 2007, and building an eternal bath on uplands within the green space, Drury said.

Officials expect the new swimming hole to cost between $10 and $15 million, one-third of which the park will pay for, with builders — including Dumbo-based Alloy Development, the firm that owns the swanky high-rise at 1 John St. inside Brooklyn Bridge Park and is proposing the controversial 80 Flatbush complex in Boerum Hill — chipping in $1.2 million, and the rest being scrounged up by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the meadow’s fund-raising and programming arm, which will tap local pols and private donors for cash.

Green-space keepers hope to request proposals from potential pool architects this fall after reviewing all public input, according to Drury, who said they hope to start work on the project soon after in order to have the pool ready for swimmers by 2020.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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