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Secret Forest Hills Pools Offer Sweet Relief for a Fee

By Nigel Chiwaya | July 13, 2012 7:31am 
 The pool at the Fairview Swim Club.
The pool at the Fairview Swim Club.
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DNAInfo/Nigel Chiwaya

FOREST HILLS — Taking a dip in a public pool can mean waiting on line in the broiling sun and braving crowded facilities once you're in.

But if you're willing to dive into your wallet, there's another oasis for those seeking relief from the heat in central Queens — a pair of private pools that are open to the public for a fee.

Forest Hills residents who want to go swimming are largely out of luck when it comes to free public pools, as the closest one is in East Elmhurst.

In fact, the borough only has nine public pools — compared to 18 in Brooklyn, 19 in Manhattan, eight in Staten Island and nine in The Bronx.

However, the private pools in Forest HIlls have been a popular spot for families, and a parent email list has been circulating the location of the pools for years.

 The pool at the Birchwood swim club is open daily.
The pool at the Birchwood swim club is open daily.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

One of the pools, operated by the Birchwood Towers luxury co-op, sits between two tall apartment buildings on 66th Road between Yellowstone Boulevard and 102nd Street. The facility features a full-size pool, a smaller kiddie pool and a second-level deck for sunbathing.

The Birchwood pool, called "a local favorite" of Forest Hills mothers on the website Queens Mamas, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the pool is $25 for adults and $12 for children on weekdays. On weekends the price increases to $20 for adults and $15 for children.

"It's nice, it's not too crowded," said Forest Hills mom Soo Nam-Buckley, 34. While she was unhappy that the pool staff wouldn't let her 8-month-old son into the adult pool, Nam-Buckley found the facility to be a nice middle ground between the long commute to the pool in Flushing Meadows and the high-priced pool at nearby the Forest Hills Tennis Club, which is only open to those that can pay the more than $2,000 yearly membership fee.

The second pool, operated by the Fairview co-op, is located on Colonial Avenue and the Horace Harding Expressway. 

According to the staff, the atmosphere is relaxed, but the pool can get crowded. As one staffer said over the phone: "We turn people away every day."

The swim club features full-size and kiddie pools, as well as sunbathing chairs and picnic tables.

"It's great," said Stephanie Diaz, 29, as she exited the pool with 2-year-old Jaden. Diaz, who lives in The Bronx, said she found the Fairview pool to be better, cleaner and less crowded than the city's beaches.

"If it's nice, we will come far for it," she said.

The Fairview pool is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults and $10 for children. 

A third pool, at the Brussels on Austin Street and 67th Avenue, has been closed for a more than a year. Building management did not respond to inquiries.

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