ASTORIA — A plan to build a public amphitheater at the old diving pool in Astoria Park — unused for decades and currently filled with overgrown plants and stagnant water — is expected to break ground next spring after several years of planning, officials said.
Construction is expected to start on the project in the spring of 2016, according to Parks Department Spokeswoman Meghan Lalor, who said the agency is currently in the process of procuring a contractor for the work.
Though the design phase for the renovation was supposed to completed in 2013, it didn't wrap up until this past April, because of delays in obtaining borings needed for the overhaul. Construction itself will take between a year and 18 months to complete once it starts next spring, according to the Parks Department website.
In the meantime, the diving pool — which is adjacent to the park's functioning, Olympic-sized swimming pool — has drawn the ire of some Astoria residents for its appearance, as its often filled with murky water.
Another person tweeted a picture of the diving pool this past spring, along with several hashtags, including "#gross."
The Parks Department said its staff regularly maintains the unused diving pool, including weeding, removing debris and spraying for insects.
"However, due to the nature of the deep pool this work is difficult and requires some extra effort from staff," Lalor said "We look forward to completing the performance space project, which will address some maintenance issues and will also honor the history of this important site."
Plans for the $5 million amphitheater have been underway since 2012, and the city presented its designs for the project in 2013, which included paving over the pool itself with concrete and covering it with pavers that would resemble water.
The makeover will also restore the diving board, flagpoles and cast-bronze railing that surrounds the pool, according to the plans. The amphitheater is expected to seat up to 500 people.
The diving pool was built by urban planner Robert Moses in 1936, and was once used for Olympic swimming and diving trials, though it's been shuttered for decades, while the park's main pool is still open and is the city's largest.
Martha Lopez Gilpin of the Astoria Park Alliance said her group hadn't received complaints specifically about the diving pool's appearance, but more often gets questions from park-users about why the amphitheater hasn't been built yet.
"I think people are kind of just waiting to see what's going to happen," she said, noting she directs people to the Parks Department's Capital Project Tracker online.
"In all city projects there's a whole flow chart of things that have to happen."