Swimmers Suggest Ways to Restore Order at McCarren Pool

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's been less than a week since McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn reopened after being closed for nearly 30 years. Already, a lifeguard has been attacked and three men have been arrested  and charged with second-degree assault for allegedly assaulting a police officer, as well as reports of thefts. Those incidents haven't stopped many from coming out for a swim at the at the Greenpoint-Williamsburg landmark.

The line of hopeful swimmers has snaked from the entrance down around the block since Thursday, many waiting 45 minutes or more to take a dip. There’s been a more visible presence of Parks Enforcement Patrol staff, as well as NYPD officers at the pool over the week, too, although Department of Parks officials deny that more security has been added over the week.

It’s hard to find anyone in line who hadn't heard of the recent incidents — and those that happened decades ago in the same spot.

"The reason it closed years ago was because of fights and now we're like right back where we started,” said elementary teacher Lisa Kasimo, who works and lives near the park.

But even though she and others aren't letting the recent rowdiness get in the way of their fun, they also have lots of suggestions for making sure it doesn't get out of hand.

Chinita Willams from Canarsie, Brooklyn, believes anyone caught engaging in violence shouldn’t be allowed back for awhile. “If they fight, they need to be banned for the rest of the summer to make it better for the rest of people trying to come here and have a pleasant time,” Williams said standing in line in the hot sun with her two kids.

Kelly Espinal, from the South side of Williambsurg, thought requiring people to pay to get in would cut down on the lawlessness.

"The best thing they should do is charge. It would be better, there would be less violent people," he reasoned.

The Parks Department has said McCarren isn't alone, that incidents of fighting and other rowdiness happen at pools throughout the city.

Frequent Parks Department critic Geoffrey Croft with NYC Parks Advocates believes that the city should been more thoughtful when it came to planning and security issues.

“The city had 28 years to work out a safety plan for that facility that protected both the public and employees alike,” Croft said. “You can't let a few people ruin the experience for hundreds of thousands in such a wonderful facility.

Croft thinks elected officials need to allocate more resources to ensure public safety there.

But Ridgewood, Queens, resident Ana Soto, came to the pool twice this week, blames unsupervised kids, not the lack of staffing for the problems.

"I don’t think teens under 18 should be allowed in without an adult. And parents should tell the children when you go to a pool you have to have control and it’s to have fun—not to fight or to jump. Follow rules and everyone can get along really good."

Bloomberg celebrated the re-opening of the landmark pool built in 1936 and closed in 1984 on Thursday. It underwent a three-year, $50 million renovation.

For a full history of the pool, listen to the audio below:

The Parks Department offered to renovate the pool in the 1980s, but the Community Board and other concerned citizens went in the opposite direction and opted to close it instead.

McCarren experienced a brief period of creative re-use when organizers turned the empty pool basins into a stage for performances, including bands such as Wilco and Sonic Youth, and outdoor movies.

Jorteh Senah contributed reporting

Kathleen Horan/WNYC
The Parks Dept also had security on hand.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
In spite of recent troubles, crowds were still happy to wait for their chance to swim.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Willamsburg resident Joseph Delaney reports getting his I-Phone stolen on Tuesday to officers.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Stepped up police presence at McCarren pool after two incidents in the first days after opening
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Bag were checked as people entered the pool.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC


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Comments [10]

Brisbane Swimming Pools from australia

People looking very exciting to get enjoy of McCarren Pool. This is very nice design of this swimming pool. Brisbane Swimming Pools

Oct. 09 2012 01:25 AM
angie from BROOKLYN


Jul. 19 2012 12:48 PM
Real brooklyn

You couldn't drop the 101 airborne there to make it safe. In our modern society respect and civility is gone. No one believes in country,family or church. There is a left wing constant pandering to so called "minority" groups when in fact they are the majority in NYC.

No one is held accountable for their actions anymore, not the so called "youth" or their parents or the community at large.

Respect for society is gone, no respect at all for society's law enforcers, the Police are mocked and disrespected totally.

The so called "youth" are taught that the police are racist and society is a white mans invention to be dis regarded and destroyed. American history is re taught that the USA was always the aggressor and has always been racist.

You have and your parents in the 60s have created this, I'm just wondering where will this all lead....the roman empire took over a 100 years to fall, we are seeing the decline right now of all western culture and another coming of a middle ages.

Jul. 17 2012 11:58 PM

$50 tax dollars wasted! The pool was great the way it was. Empty that thing and go back to having summer concerts and the like. The pool sucks and so do the crowds it attracts! The only good mccarren pool is an empty mccarren pool!

Jul. 09 2012 06:10 PM
lcruz from brooklyn

what part of public do idiots here do not understand, should central park south not be accessible to Blacks/Latinos from central park north ?, yeah let's have a fee or only allow people that live on central park east/west to access the park, get a life, deal with it by living it, the reason most of these transplants are in nyc is b/c of it's diversity, one can always op to head back to Omaha,

Jul. 06 2012 09:58 AM
scallywag from nyc

So it’s a case of the bad seeds (one commentator calls them gang bangers) of Brooklyn moving to the (gentrified)nice part of Brooklyn and behaving inappropriately? Maybe part of the unease involves (hipsters/yuppies) locals unease with a branch of Brooklyn resident that it is not accustomed to or would perhaps choose not to get too accustomed to.

Jul. 06 2012 08:25 AM

When I was a kid, our city pool system used (probaby still does use) a token system. Anyone who wanted to use the pools had to register and pay for a swim token, which was a metal tage that swimmers had to sew onto their swimsuit. If there was no tag on your suit, you could not swim. All tags had a registration number on them, so if you misbehaved the number was tied back to the contact info you gave when you originally registered. I never got into any trouble, so I don't know how effective it was. The tokens lasted all summer, and you had to get a new one with a different color the following year. I'm sure NYC can come up with something to keep track of who's using the pool. I don't know if this will help, but if people know that the city knows who you are and they can revoke your priviledges for bad behavior, maybe it will have an effect.

Jul. 05 2012 05:29 PM
Tom from Greenpoint

Can we stop repeating the lie that racist Greenpointers closed the pool? Please see two-part story below

Jul. 04 2012 11:38 AM
Cory from Greenpoint

Didn't they learn anything from the first time they closed. Start charging a fee. With this fee you would have some more security there. 1,500 swimmers need more supervision than 2 police officers. Also need supervision in those locker rooms as well. Next no-one under the age of 18 years allowed without an adult. If no one follows the rules they should get thrown out.

Jul. 04 2012 09:31 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

C'mon people! This is a pool for everyone. If you want to fight and be aggressive go somewhere else! Allow your neighbors to enjoy a cool spot w/o the fear of being beaten up! Perhaps a yearly fee is in order. Too bad, it shouldn't have to go that way.

Jul. 03 2012 07:49 PM

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