Years-Long Closure: Parks Dept. Struggles to Repair Roof, Adjustable Pool Floor

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Child Swimming Goggles
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Repairs at an aquatic facility in Queens, N.Y., have kept the facility closed for three years, well beyond officials' original projections. 

The Flushing Meadows Corona Aquatic Center’s Olympic-caliber pool was originally supposed to open in February 2022, after an emergency roof repair, according to a report from The City

The emergency roof repair was completed in July 2021, but the pool remains closed with because the department said that there are repairs needed to the adjustable floor that’s designed to move up and down to accommodate diving or swimming.

Construction work on the floor began this September. Yet the Parks Department capital project tracker shows the $500,000 fix marked as “0% complete,” The City reported. 

Parks spokesman Dan Kastanis told The City that the department plans to reopen the pool around January 2023, before closing it again for 12 to 18 months starting in the summer of 2024 for a complete reconstruction of its roof along with its HVAC and dehumidification systems. In the meantime, safety netting installed onto the ceiling in early 2020 would remain in place to catch concrete shedding from the roof.

Progress on repairing the movable floor has been slow, one source familiar with the project said, because it’s a custom item that does not exist in any other aquatic facility run by the parks department, and it requires specialized materials that are not widely available. The parts are expected to arrive in December and be installed shortly after, the source said.

In the meantime, Queens swimmers have few options, with outdoor pools closed for the winter season and the only other indoor pool in the borough — a much smaller one located at the Roy Wilkins Recreation Center in St. Albans — also closed for maintenance since late September.

“We are committed to reopening this beloved facility to the community,” Kastanis told The City. “We never close facilities unless absolutely necessary, and these repairs are essential — they must be done to ensure everyone’s safety for future use.” 

Pool users locked out for nearly three years are running out of patience.

“It’s sad that this pool is still closed waiting for [the] wheels of bureaucracy to turn. Our kids, seniors and rest of us need a place to swim and exercise,” reads a one-star Google Review of the Aquatic Center from user Line Push.

“This is our pool and we want it reopened because as it sits unopened it’ll decay and then it will never reopen,” another one-star review from user The Marclan reads.

While Parks presently has no indoor pools the public can use in Queens, Manhattan has five, all south of 61st Street, while a sixth, at the Hansborough Recreation Center on West 134 Street, has been closed for repairs since May 2019.

“I think that precisely reflects the scale of the inequity here and the problems that we’re talking about,” said Councilmember Shekar Krishnan (D-Queens), who chairs the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreations and represents Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. 

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