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Roberto Clemente’s Pools Closed for Second Straight Year

July 2, 2010

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ROBERTO CLEMENTE’ STATE PARK’S OLYMPIC-SIZED SWIMMING POOL IS STILL BEING RENOVATED (PHOTO: J. EVELLY)

 BY JEANMARIE EVELLY

There’s no relief in sight for Morris Heights residents looking to cool off this summer—for the second year in a row.

While most public pools opened at the end of June, swimmers at Roberto Clemente State Park will have to go elsewhere. The park’s three pools—a wading area, diving tank and Olympic-sized main pool—are still undergoing renovation.

Adults and children were irked when the pools were closed last summer at the start of construction, which was supposed to take only 12 months.

But the work is still not finished.

“It’s nowhere near ready,” said Leon Johnson, president of the nearby apartment complex River Park Towers, and a Community Board 5 member. “They’re talking about August, they’re talking about October. Nobody swims in October. From what I could see, it may be time to close the pool by the time it opens.”

Both the diving tank and main pool are currently drained; the latter is filled with dirt, wheelbarrows and construction debris.

Rachel Gordon, New York City regional director with the New York State Parks Department, said she doesn’t have an estimated date for when the renovations will be finished, or when the pools might open up again. The project is ongoing because it’s so extensive, she said.

“It’s a huge, huge, huge job,” she said. “They did an enormous amount of work. The improvements are absolutely dramatic.”

Workers are gutting and rebuilding the locker rooms and have installed a child’s spray pool and play area, she said. The main pool is being entirely refurbished and getting a new filter system, while the diving tank will get a new set of pipes.

But the pools’ new additions are doing little to appease some residents looking to stay cool.

“The kids are desperate for the pool,” said Irene Viruet, who lives in nearby River Park Towers with her 4-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter. “We moved in last year and were hoping it would be done by this year.”

Officials had insisted last year that renovations would be finished in time for this summer.

“I didn’t believe that it would open up this year,” Johnson complained. “And here we are again. The administrators should be held accountable for this.”

Frances Rodriguez, the park’s director, referred all questions to Gordon and her office.

“The whole park was built in 1973, a lot of things have to be redone,” Gordon countered. “They’re working every day. It’s just a huge amount of work.”

The restorations are part of a larger project to rehabilitate a number of Bronx parks, with money provided by the city to compensate the borough for parkland occupied during the construction of a water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park.

Editor’s Notes: For a list of alternative pools and spray parks in the Bronx, click hereAnd click here for our editorial on the pools’ closure.

Comments

One Response to “Roberto Clemente’s Pools Closed for Second Straight Year”

  1. Editorial: Swimming Pool Blues : Mount Hope Monitor on July 6th, 2010 9:35 pm

    [...] of ongoing renovations, Roberto Clemente State Park’s swimming pools will likely be closed for the entire summer for the second year in a row – something Leon Johnson, the president of River Park Towers Tenants [...]

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