40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

Open the Outdoor Pools This Summer

on April 18, 2020

Marcus Garvey Pool

The mayor’s coronavirus-inflicted “wartime” budget proposes to save money and limit disease transmission by, among other measures, not opening the New York City’s outdoor pools and beaches this summer. I’ve thought long and hard about this dreadful possibility and hereby submit my plea for opening the pools. You may suspect that this is a knee-jerk reaction, so please allow me to convince you of why pools are so important:

  1. New York gets really, really, hot in the summer — and it’s been getting even hotter. July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet. New Yorkers who don’t have second homes in which to wait out the virus will need places to cool off.
  2. Unlike the beaches, which require significant travel for many people to get to them, outdoor pools are spread throughout the city’s neighborhoods. There are 53 in total, and they can serve nearly 2 million New Yorkers in a typical summer. If we are still limited in our travels, pools will be more easily reachable by many people than the beaches.
  3. Chlorinated pools prevent transmission of the virus, and believe you me the city pools are chlorinated.
  4. Operations could be adjusted based on public health guidelines. For example, we could skip using the often-crowded locker rooms (except for bathroom access) and enter directly onto the pool deck in order to stay more spread out. It works in Philadelphia, so why not here? This could save money and allow New Yorkers to exercise their creativity in fashioning cover-ups for walks to and from the pool. To further limit crowding, we could restrict usage at certain times such as by gender or age so people can plan accordingly.
  5. Operating the pools costs only $12 million out of a $90 billion budget.
  6. The outdoor pools are free for all comers, which is especially important given the massive unemployment and other economic hardships wrought by the pandemic here in its current epicenter.
  7. As key pieces of communities’ social infrastructure, pools will help New Yorkers repair the wounds of isolation and loss and ease into new ways of safely sharing public space.

There are many other benefits to pools in normal times as well. Please share your thoughts in the comments.


9 responses to “Open the Outdoor Pools This Summer

  1. Michael Goldring says:

    All good points. How to persuade the authorities?

  2. Catherine Fredman says:

    Great points, Hannah! I plan to share them with our elected officials — the borough presidents (especially Manhattan BP Gale Brewer), NYC public advocate Jumaane Williams and City Controller Scott Stringer.

  3. Alice says:

    Hannah, thought you gave great reasons to open the pools. Hope your pleas have receptive ears and hearts! Here’s to happy swimming this summer.

  4. PZ says:

    An eloquent and rational proposal! Thank you. A rational addendum: open the pools Memorial Day!

  5. mdrabik2015 says:

    This is the longest time I haven’t been swimming in forty years, and that includes the time before and after the births of each of my six children. There is no easy substitute for swimming. I’ve been doing a five mile walk every morning and it just isn’t working. Please open the pools.

  6. […] Open the Outdoor Pools This Summer Apr […]

  7. noz says:

    tag every pool as coveted now 😦

  8. […] addicts have a commuting challenge in store: Both facilities are operating without locker rooms; as I suggested early on in this darn pandemic, so swimmers have to arrive dressed to swim with little else. […]

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