Since the pool was “saved” we were able to take a dip this past weekend. It is a nice pool, and it is not too crowded, but my initial assessment still stands, it is a dicey area. We go there 20 minutes before the pool opens at 11AM, so we decided to kill some time at the playground next door. There were no children at the playground but there were two gentlemen sleeping on benches, and a third standing nervously in the corner. I couldn’t determine if he was waiting for his “business” day to start or end. And this was all in a PLAYGROUND!
None-the-less, nice pool, crummy neighborhood.
(ORIGINAL POST 6/10/2010)
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not so upset about the Douglas and DeGraw pool in Gowanus closing. My wife loves the pool, as it has a 1′ deep wading pool that the nearby Red Hook pool does not. And a lot of locals were bummed when the city said it would not re-open the pool this summer due to budget concerns. A number of people have even started campaigning to keep the pool open. But I’ve never been the NIMBY sort, and if a pool has to go, I really think it should be the D & D.
I don’t object to the Draconian measures required to enter the pool (must have swimsuit, towel, nothing else is permitted) or the fact that there is not a lick of shade or that it is located 300 feet from one of the most polluted and contaminated waterways on the eastern seaboard.
I’ll be honest, going to the pool with my wife and son, we walked by a prostitute on the corner of Douglas and Nevins. Perhaps, she was actually a lovely lady, who just happened to be dressed… how can I put this as politely as possible…skankily, and she was merely looking for pleasant conversation with gentlemen in their cars. But I stand by my initial prostitute assessment.
Granted, I have not seen any tricking in subsequent visits, but it always left me a little uneasy. It is a nice pool, but the industrial neighborhood west of the pool does have an unsavory under-belly. I did not get this impression from some of the other city pools I’ve been to. Red Hook is usually crowded, but very wholesome, and the Astoria Pool is really breathtaking, and if you haven’t seen the mini Vesuvio Playground pool on Thompson Street in Manhattan, check it out, its adorable.
I wish the city didn’t have to close any pools (or firehouses or libraries.) But one of the main draws of the Double D is that it isn’t as crowded as other pools, and maybe there is a reason for that.
Let Them Eat Cake !
City pools are closing in poor neighborhoods (The Douglas and DeGraw pool in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; Fort Totten’s pool near Bayside, Queens; The West Brighton pool on Staten Island; and Wagner pool in East Harlem) because politicians are diverting NYC park funds to wealthy neighborhoods to renovate and add features to already existing and practically brand new parks. An example is Pavilion Park located in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan at 61st Street overlooking the East River. Tiny but chic the 12,000 square foot (slightly less than ¼ acre) Pavilion Park was built in 1995 –only 15 years ago– at a cost of $2.1 million dollars (a price tag that does not include the cost of the Alice Aycock rooftop sculpture).
On June 9, 2010 I attended a Manhattan Community Board 8 meeting where I learned that plans are underway to completely revamp Pavilion Park WITH $1 million dollars of City park funds. Existing practically brand new fencing and benches will be replaced as will the $600,000 hex tile patterned paved surface. Why? Because wealthy Upper East Side residents have decided they now want a raised lawn for a more up-to-date green look. They may be wealthy, but they certainly do not want to spend their own money which is why the City will pick up the $1 million dollar tab! When I objected, I was informed that it wasn’t costing “that much” money. Imagine. Only $1 million dollars. Chump change in this hood. (Especially when it comes with money saved by closing your pool!)
Hey, I know what. Come use our pool. Yes, believe it or not, we too have a public pool here on the Upper East Side. It is located in John Jay Park on East 77th Street and guess what? Our pool won’t be closing this summer. And you know why I am inviting you to swim in our pool? Because we won’t be using it, that’s why. Like the rest of my wealthy neighbors, we’re gonna be out in the Hamptons. Hey, suckers. Have a nice summer!
(A big round of thanks to our elected and appointed officials who put wealthy white Upper East Side residents first. (UES: 88% white, $88,000 per capita income. Brooklyn census tracts closest to D&D pool (71, 125 & 127): 15% white, 80% black and Hispanic; median household – not per capita income is approximately $23,000.)
Special thanks to Mayor Bloomberg (who lives in the Upper East Side, of course) Parks Commissioner William Castro, Manhattan Parks Commission Adrian Benepe, Manhattan Community Board 8, Council members Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick) for keeping the money (and the open pools) where they should be – in the hands of wealthy white folks!
Does this sound fair to you?
No, it doesn’t sound fair. (But I can’t say I’m surprised, Brooklyn and the outer boroughs have been getting the shaft from the NYC budget forever.)
But when considering closing the Gowanus pool, the city bean counters didn’t take into account that the parents in the nearby neighborhoods of Park Slope and Carrol Gardens have the same sense of entitlement* as our Upper East Side brethren. The protest to keep the Douglas and DeGraw pool open is gaining steam. (It really is an interesting view of democracy and activism in action.)
But if the Double D does close, maybe we should arrange shuttle buses to the Upper East Side John Jay Park?
*I don’t mean “entitlement” as a pejorative. They should feel entitled, it is their tax dollars, and they should have a say at where it is spent.
Perhaps you are right; however, there is another view. Perhaps everything is going according to political plan. Four pools are closing yet only one, the Double D, is getting press. Is it because users of the other pools and their borough presidents don’t care? Or is it that the politicos have really decided to close only 3 but are closing 4 to start so they can toss one back to make the little people feel empowered. By little people, I mean more than just those in your neighborhood but all those little folks watching the news who are rooting for the underdog.
Did you notice that Brooklyn Borough President Marky Markowitz is screaming but NOT about unfairness? No, he took off his pants and went on and on about getting a private sponsor (knowing very well that that is unlikely the Park’s Department will never allow a private sponsor to hang up even a tiny sign at the pool). He was given a role and a script just as as the other “quiet” borough presidents are playing their roles. No press at the other pools because those borough presidents were told to keep their mouths shut.
But hey, that’s all just theory. Everyone should still continue to protest. I suggest that readers send an e-mail to your district’s Council Member Steve Liven (firstname.lastname@example.org) and copy our Council Member Jessica Lappin (email@example.com) and ask why it is that your hood can’t get a measly $200,000 to open your pool for poor kids (who are not going to the Hamptons) when the Upper East Side is getting $1 million dollars it neither needs nor wants to renovate an already beautiful park.
The truth is that we, little people in the UES who use Pavilion Park, actually love it just as it is. We don’t even want them to renovate it. If you e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will e-mail you pictures of Pavilion Park to show you just how nice it already is.
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