GPT001-8.jpg (80409 bytes) New York Architecture Images-  Greenpoint Brooklyn

McCarren Park Pool


N.Y.C. Department of Parks. Aymar Embury II, consultant.


McCarren Park, Lorimer St. bet. Bayard St. and Driggs Ave. E side. 


ca. 1936.


Monumental Constructivism








Gutted by fire in 1987, this ceremonially arched pavilion, with its imposing clerestory, announced the grand dip behind. It is one of 4 WPA-built swimming pools erected in Brooklyn during the Depression (the others are Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Betsy Head).  
  Mayor LaGuardia, at its opening day dedication in 1936 (seen above) noted that "no pool anywhere has been as much appreciated as this one."

McCarren Park Pool Reconstruction Finalized

by Anya Szykitka

Special to Billburg Courtesy of Waterfront Week

Plans for rehabilitation of the McCarren Park Pool were presented at the public hearing and meeting of Community Board 1 on April 17 by representatives of Vollmer Associates, an engineering and planning firm hired by the city Department of Parks and Recreation. The concept study for the project is based on input from the community, and the presenters used color photographs, sketches, and plans to explain details of the upgrade.

The structure, which was originally a large outdoor pool, will be remodeled to include a variety of activities for year-round use. Leslie Peoples, a landscape architect with Vollmer, said community groups and the Department of Parks and Recreation wanted certain primary elements included in the design: a multi-purpose building, a pool, and a skateboard park. Peter Manani, also with Vollmer, explained that the multi-purpose building will house indoor recreation such as basketball and volleyball, amphitheater seating, and a performance stage. There are also plans for a new playground at the east end of the pool area and a pool locker room in the north bathhouse. Tentative plans include use of the south bathhouse for classrooms, studios, or exhibitions; use of the bathhouse rooftops for cafes; and a concession area in the two existing pavilions.

The chair of the McCarren Park Pool task force, board member Robert Bratko, said it is important that local residents and community groups support the plan, and he asked that the Board vote to approve it. The task force was set up by the Board to encourage community support and generate city funding for reconstruction of the pool.

An architectural historian with a long-time interest in the pool put the facility in historical perspective. Frannie Eberhardt said the pool, one of ten built by Robert Moses at the beginning of the Great Depression, is the only one of that group not currently open. Moses was able to find $10 million for the pools, many of which contain important and unique architectural features (such as the immense arch over the main entrance to the McCarren Park Pool). "It's extremely exciting to see a plan to bring it back to life and to bring it into the 21st century . different, certainly, from its inception, but very much for the community," Ms. Eberhardt said.

It is significant that the community has a unified vision for the pool, according to the Board's chairman, Vincent Abate. The Department of Parks and Recreation has turned down previous funding requests because the community couldn't agree on a single plan, he said. Credit was given to City Council member Kenneth Fisher by several of the speakers for his role in supporting the project.

Kent Avenue Variance Request Presented

A request for a zoning variance to convert manufacturing space to live/work use was presented during the public hearing by Mitchell Ross, who represented the property owner. The building, which is located at 337-347 Kent Avenue in the Northside area of Williamsburg, was built at the turn of the century as three separate structures designed to house living and manufacturing space, according to Mr. Ross. However, he said, the buildings were gradually interconnected over the years.

The building, now vacant, sits in an M1-2, or light manufacturing, zoning area and a variance is needed to permit any residential usage in that district. For the last 20 to 30 years the building contained a feather importing, exporting, and sorting company, and Mr. Ross said he does not believe the building is suitable for modern light manufacturing on a large scale, citing the low ceilings (approximately 8 feet), tight column spacing, insufficient floor load capacity, and lack of elevators, which together make the building "functionally obsolete."

If converted, the upper floors would house 33 live/work spaces, and the first floor would contain 5 work-only units, with less than 15% of the overall floor area in residential use, he said. The remaining areas would be designated for light manufacturing uses such as woodworking, photography, studio arts, or design. "We all know that, in this area, we have a lot of interest in that type of use. People want to work and live in the same space," he said.

Mr. Ross said people are already occupying buildings in the area for live/work purposes and that the project would encourage mixed residential and manufacturing use, which would help with job retention. The first floor would rent for approximately $5.50 per square foot, and the upper floors for approximately $4.50 per square foot, he said.

There was some dispute about exactly what type of manufacturing zoning district the property falls in. Board member Inez Pasher said she believed the area was zoned M-3. She also criticized the plan, saying that the sidewalks near the building are very narrow and that parking is an increasing problem since other nearby buildings are becoming illegally occupied. "It's not a Soho," she said.

Board member Ronald Webster asked Mr. Ross to bring evidence to the upcoming committee meeting of how the owner has marketed the building. Greenpoint and Williamsburg 197-a Plans Nearing Completion.

Updates on both the Greenpoint and Williamsburg 197-a plans, the community-generated blueprints for development in those neighborhoods, were presented during the public hearing and regular Board meeting. Board member Julie Lawrence, chair of the waterfront committee, and Joe Vance, a local architect and co-chair of the community group Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, explained the most recent changes to the Greenpoint plan, which covers not only the waterfront areas of Greenpoint north from the Bushwick Inlet on the East River and along Newtown Creek, but also the interior of the neighborhood.

The plan is now in the public comment phase and has been undergoing modifications for the past year as various agencies have given their input. The current modifications are primarily to insure that the plan's wording conforms with that of the neighboring Williamsburg 197-a plan, according to Mr. Vance.

Using a large color-coded map, Mr. Vance and Ms. Lawrence went over highlights of the plan and pointed out various subareas where specific recommendations have been made. The categories included in the plan are zoning and land use, waterfront access and open space, environmental conditions, transportation, community facilities, and historic preservation.

Mr. Vance read portions of the recommendations for the various issues. For example, waterfront access plays an important role in the plan and includes provisions for parks, esplanades, and open green spaces at street ends on both the East River and Newtown Creek. Recommendations for environmental conditions include the curtailing of any new waste transfer stations, enforcing existing regulations for the stations, and encouraging the city to reexamine its zoning regulations.

The updated recommendations will be sent to local development corporations and businesses for feedback, and it is expected that a vote will be taken on the plan at the June Board meeting, Ms. Lawrence said.

Ms. Lawrence also reported that the Williamsburg 197-a plan, which was presented to the Board in full in February, has only been commented on in writing by the community group El Pointe. Those comments have been incorporated into the recommendations. The Board voted to approve the plan, which, with the modified recommendations, constitutes the final version. The plan will be submitted to the Department of City Planning and voted on by the City Council.

Reconstruction Planned for Marcy Avenue Station

The first stop in Brooklyn on the J, M and Z subway lines, the Marcy Avenue station, will be undergoing a major rehabilitation, according to representatives of New York City Transit who gave a presentation on the project. The main goal of the upgrade is to repair the station, to make sure it complies with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to link the station with nearby bus stops.

Changes to the station, which is elevated above Broadway, will include construction of a new stairway at the west end of the station near the bus terminal (those entrances will be unmanned with turn stiles only); complete enclosure of the station, which will encompass the agent booth, turn stiles, and waiting area and will have heating and clerestory lighting; installation of two new ADA elevators to street level, one on each side of the station; platform repair; new windscreens; and new lighting, according to David Barabas, architect for the project. He also said the design is meant to recall the elevated stations of the nineteenth century.

Work on the station is scheduled to be done in two phases, according to the design manager for the project. Phase one will coincide with weekend

closures for construction on the Williamsburg Bridge in October and November. Since trains won't be running on the bridge, closing the station at that

time will not cause any additional disruptions, he said.

The second phase is scheduled for the first three months of 2002, when steel work will be done and the elevators constructed. During that time, it is expected that service at the station will only be halted for two weekends in each direction, he said.

Waste Transfer Stations Requesting Increased Capacity

Within the last month, requests were made by Waste Management for permits to operate on Sundays, according to Ms. Pasher, chair of the Board's environmental committee. Allowances were also requested to increase the average amount of waste capacity from 4,400 tons per day from the current 3,700 tons. If that amount is allowed on an average per day basis, surges in the amount of garbage can occur on certain days, she said. "It's very disconcerting to have another assault on the only day that we have free from these transfer station trucks," she said.

Ms. Pasher said a letter was written to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requesting denial of the permits for facilities on Varick Street and on Scott Avenue. In addition, she said Annette Lamotta of the community group OUTRAGE brought 200 letters to DEC the previous week in protest, and she encouraged local organizations to write to that agency expressing opposition to the permits.

"I understand that there are times when it is necessary, and the city requests, the waste management companies to deal with waste that occurs during a holiday, on a Sunday...I am sure that there is a process in place where they are not denied that right to do so. And if that process is in fact in place, that's all they really need. And I have seen trucks going on Sunday, and it has been at those times, because I've always noted that it's been around the time of a holiday," she said. "Sunday is a day of rest. And I think this community should be rested on Sunday," she added.

The Board is now waiting for a response from DEC, which is required to respond to the application within 30 days.

Community Board 1 holds a combined public hearing and meeting, generally on the second Tuesday of the month, at 6:30 p.m. at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center, 211 Ainslie Street.


  with thanks to "The AIA Guide to New York",