BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A public pool in Bed-Stuy is in danger of being shut down as the city proposes improvements to the neighborhood's parks.
The 4-foot-deep pool at Jesse Owens Playground, on Lafayette Avenue between Stuyvesant Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, is not wheelchair-accessible and needs upgrades, officials from the city's Parks Department said as they unveiled their proposals to the community Wednesday night.
Parks officials are considering either removing the pool entirely or making improvements to it, depending on feedback from residents as well as an assessment of the pool's current condition and the costs of renovating it.
While popular, the facility only receives two months of use each year, said Kevin Jeffrey, Brooklyn borough commissioner for the Parks Department.
“It’s a decision that is very hard to make on our own,” Jeffrey added, asking Brooklyn Community Board 3’s subcommittee for input on the options at the Wednesday night meeting.
A suggested rendering from the Parks Department would replace the pool with a larger spray shower area that has more “intensive,” decorative arcs to provide water in the summer months. The proposal would also allow for two expanded playgrounds.
CB3 Chair Tremaine Wright called the removal a “huge, considerable tradeoff,” stressing that there are no other pools in the eastern area of the district. The next closest option for residents would be Kosciuszko Pool, some eight blocks away.
The Parks Department's renovation proposal also includes a new track and multipurpose sports area for Jesse Owens Playground.
Residents had requested a space that honors the park's namesake, who was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist.
The 2.3-acre park would also get updated play equipment and swings to replace current amenities “that have seen some better days and are not very engaging,” according to Allen Juba, principal with MKW & Associates, the architectural firm behind the plans.
Upgrades are also coming to Stockton Playground, located next to P.S. 297 between Park Avenue and Floyd Street, which would receive a “gathering space” to add benches and picnic tables, as well as new planting gardens, Parks representatives said.
The parks are two of 35 sites the city is planning to redo as part of the $130 million Community Parks Initiative. The projects aim to improve public spaces in densely populated, growing and lower-income communities, according to the Parks Department.
Finalized plans will be presented to the community board in coming months and construction will be done in about two years.