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McCarren Pool Beefs Up Security After Violence and Thefts

By Mathew Katz | July 4, 2012 2:40pm
Parks Department staff check bags at the entrance to McCarren Pool on July 4, 2012.
Parks Department staff check bags at the entrance to McCarren Pool on July 4, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

GREENPOINT — Call it Fort McCarren Pool.

New Yorkers hoping to chill out at the newly opened public pool over the steamy Fourth of July holiday were met with stepped-up security measures Wednesday as temperatures reached into the 90s.

Cops set up a barricade at the entrance to the Greenpoint pool, with at least 10 officers and a dozen Parks Department staff checking bags and making sure all swimmers had a towel and a padlock for lockers.

The pool has seen a rash of crime since it reopened last week. A cop was punched in the face and three people arrested on Monday, a brawl shut the pool down last week, and there have been a rash of thefts from the pool's locker rooms, authorities said.

The incidents led some advocates to call for more security at the pool, which has a capacity of 1,500 people.

But some swimmers questioned the increased security presence, including Alexa Orr, 35, who said a Parks Department staffer told her and a friend that they were not allowed to change in the locker room.

"She told us that we couldn't do that because there are kids around and that if we wanted to change, we'd have to change in a bathroom stall," said the Windsor Terrace, who was visiting the pool with her family.

"We had to change, we're going for pizza after this. It's ridiculous."

Orr said she and her friend just changed in the locker room, despite Parks staffers' protests.

Orr's husband, Dan, said that the men's locker room was a different scene — with lots of people stripping down to change.

He added that security at the entrance didn't concern him much.

"It was quick, and they're mostly just concerned to find out if you have locks and towels."

The Parks Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Edgar Nunez, 26, who came to the pool Wednesday with his girlfriend hoping for a chance cool off, said he didn't have a problem with the added security.

"There are a lot of guys looking to take advantage of a situation," he said. "We got people here making sure they won't."

Th extra staff seemed to exceed what's typical for the pool. NYC Park Advocates stated that McCarren Pool typically has just two cops on duty, along with two Parks Enforcement Supervisors, 10 seasonal workers and less than a dozen lifeguards.

"Yeah, I don't like cops," Nunez admitted. "But today I'm just here to swim, man."