Oswald Egas spent summers as a boy practicing to swim and escaping the heat at the Fort Totten Pool. He later took his own children to the same outdoor spot, telling them “that’s where I grew up.”
But Egas’ kids may not be able to share the same sentiment with their children.
If the City Council cannot restore $1.5 billion in funding, it will close the Fort Totten Pool and three other outdoor pools in the city.
“Our decision was based on several factors, including attendance figures, proximity to other pools, access to public transit and the location of the pools relative to residential communities,” the Parks Department said in a statement.
The budget issue could also force the department to end the outdoor pool season, which traditionally runs from the end of June to Labor Day, two weeks early this year.
The pool “is a relief to many citizens. I think it’s terrible that they’re possibly not going re-open it,” Egas said.
Other local residents were also disappointed by the news.
“It’s a loss to the area,” said Joe Maron, who prefers the pool to the beach.
“I just think it’s so sad that this pool is at risk because it’s such a great thing for this community. And there are a lot of people who don’t have pools or can’t afford pools, said Cheryl Cummings.
City pools on the chopping block have been saved from a shut down in the past.
“As the only free pool in Northeast Queens, the Fort Totten Pool is a tremendous resource to our community, and as such, the Parks Department should not annually propose its closure as a budget negotiating tactic,” said Assemblymember Edward Braunstein.
“As we have done for the last three years, the New York City Council fully expects to find the funds necessary to ensure that all of New York City’s families are able to enjoy a full season at all of the city’s pools again this year,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
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