By Kareem Johnson and Carla Zanoni
Highbridge Pool is one step closer to having a year-round recreation center, thanks to a team of volunteers who worked in the blazing sun raising a pavilion changing area that will free up indoor space during the summer for non-pool related use.
The pool was closed until 4 p.m. Tuesday while volunteers from the community, Parsons School of Design, Home Depot and the Major League Soccer All-Stars painted, glued and stapled the wooden beams, called ribs, that will make up the Splash House, a pool-side changing area.
Members of Manchester United, Red Bull and various other Major League Soccer (MLS) players pitched in to help drill the structure into place.
As adults built the Splash House, kids participated in a soccer clinic taught by the Claudio Reyna Foundation and MLS players at the ball fields beside the pool.
Don Garber, commissioner for MLS, said he recognized the importance of year-round recreational facilities for the community and was excited to be part of a local initiative.
Bill Castro, Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner, said he was enthusiastic about the project, because it would enhance the parks accessibility throughout the year.
The new space, designed and created by a group of graduate architecture students at Parsons The New School for design, have been working on the project for more than a year and hope to complete its construction in late August, making it publically available for next year’s swim season.
The sleek and modern looking structure will have lockers, bathing areas and seating under a translucent polycarbonate corrugate rooftop that will allow natural light to shine through while providing refuge from the sun and elements, said Parsons student Jayne Elterman.
“This is a community that needs recreation space for the 100,000 to 150,000 community members that use the center,” said Alfred Zollinger, director of Parsons Design Works. “We are working as hard as we can to make sure this project is completed by the end of August.”
Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, who volunteered her time to build the structure as a community resident, chair of Community Board 12’s Parks and Cultural Affair committee and community liaison for State Sen.
Adriano Espaillat said the initiative would transform the Highbridge Pool for families.
“We don’t have enough recreation centers in this community as it is, so having a center offline for two months a year has been a real loss,” she said of the indoor space that is used as a changing area during the summer.
“Having indoor activities during the summer will also make the center available to all family members whether they want to swim or not.”