Astoria pool set for rebirth


| smosco@queenscourier.com |

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.
Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Astoria Park’s historic diving pool will be reborn as a performance space.

Elected officials are diving right in to a project to repurpose a long-neglected pool in Astoria Park.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski announced plans to convert the dive pool at Astoria Park into an outdoor performance space, the first of its kind in the neighborhood.

“I’m especially proud to work with the Parks Department to turn what has become an eyesore into sorely-needed performance space,” said Vallone, who allocated $1 million for the project. “Some of the city’s brightest performers call Queens home, and they deserve one of the most beautiful locations in the city.  Nestled between the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges with a view of the East River and the skyline at sunset, it will evoke the theaters of ancient Greek and Rome and will be truly majestic.”

The project will include pouring concrete into the pool, removing debris and existing small diving boards, creating seating areas, installing flooring, a new perimeter concrete walkway and tent canopy shade at the bleachers, among other improvements. The pool’s three-level diving board will remain and be refurbished.

Construction is tentatively set to begin in 2012, with possible completion coming in 2013.

“Astoria Park has long been one of Queens’ flagship recreational facilities, with opportunities for swimming, running, tennis and even skateboarding,” said Lewandowski. “Thanks to Councilmember Vallone’s generous allocation, we are now ‘diving’ into a new area of use – public performance space. This long unused space will be transformed to bring music, theater and more to residents of Astoria and the borough of Queens.”

Vallone is also providing $2 million for renovations to the Astoria Park pool rooftop and terrace and hopes to see a café-type concession there one day. Since taking office, he was instrumental in conceiving and funding Astoria Park’s state-of-the-art skate park.

Taryn Sacramone, executive director for the Astoria Performing Arts Center, said that the stage – in the center of one of the city’s most beautiful parks – will make the performing arts more accessible to the community.

“It will draw people to Astoria and provide artists with a unique space to share their talents,” she said. “The location is absolutely inspired and the possibilities are endless. Astoria will be much richer for it.”