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What’s in a name? The Parks Department hopes cash at McCarren Park

Emily Gallagher (with sign) and Mikki Halpin (with photo) are protesting the city’s proposal to sell the naming rights to Greenpoint’s McCarren Pool in order to protect the legacy of turn-of-the-20th-century state Sen. Patrick Henry McCarren, the legend.
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

A proposal to sell the naming rights of the someday-to-reopen McCarren Park Pool has put a long-deceased state Senator in the fight of his afterlife.

In an effort to bolster its dwindling general fund, the city is considering charging a cool $3 million to rename the pool — potentially snubbing late 19th- and early 20th-century state Sen. Patrick Henry McCarren (D-Greenpoint), whose works may be long-forgotten, but whose name has become synonymous with good times and the now-defunct rock and roll pool parties.

As such, North Brooklynites are rallying to keep make sure that the McCarren Pool doesn’t become the McDonald’s Pool.

“This is not a rootless community that just sprang up,” said Williamsburg resident Mikki Halpin, whose organization Pool Aid launched a petition drive online that already has 165 signatures, plus collected hundreds more on the street. “We have a history, and we are seeing it just torn down before our eyes everyday.”

Opponents of the plan — which was first reported in our older sister publication, the New York Post — claim that removing McCarren’s name from the pool would be an attack on Greenpoint’s past.

“He is an important guy, he is a benefactor to this community, and he deserves to have his name on the institutions he worked to create,” she said.

McCarren — who passed away in 1909 — might be best remembered for the park that bears his name, but during his time in Albany from he also lobbied for the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Opponents often criticized McCarren for being in the pockets of big oil and big sugar — major Williamsburg and Greenpoint industries at the time — but he was celebrated by Brooklynites and Tammany pols for winning Democratic votes in the historic elections of 1903, for which he was praised by then Mayor-elect George McClellan as a man of “untiring efforts and unswerving Democracy.”

So far, the city has not decided definitively whether or not it will sell the pool’s naming rights, and a request for proposals has not yet been issued, according to Parks spokesman Phil Abramson.

This isn’t the first time a legendary Brooklynite has had his name erased from a city park.

Former Borough President J.J. Byrne had his name stripped from a Park Slope greenspace last year in favor often-defeated Revolutionary War General George Washington.

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