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Not going swimmingly: Dapolito outdoor pool will be closed another summer

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated March 12, 2 p.m.: Will this finally be the summer that the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center’s outdoor pool reopens? Should Lower West Siders start anticipating breaking out their swimsuits, or maybe buying new ones, so they can hit the pool’s refreshing and cooling water?

Umm…in the words of the center’s namesake, the late Tony Dapolito a.k.a. the “Mr. Parks and Playgrounds” of Community Board 2… “Fugheddaboudit.”

It’s already been four summers now that the beloved Greenwich Village swimming hole has been closed as the rec center, at Seventh Avenue South and Clarkson Street, has been undergoing drawn-out repairs. The project cost was initially budgeted at $4 million to $6 million — but ballooned to $17 million after the structure was found in need of a more drastic rehab.

According to a Parks spokesperson, “The Tony Dapolito Rec Center pool will remain closed for summer 2024. During the summer, we encourage patrons to visit Hamilton Fish pool — 1.5 miles away — at 128 Pitt St., at Houston Street.”

(Speaking of fish, the Clarkson Street pool sports a colorful Keith Haring aquatic mural from 1987.)

The Parks Department’s outdoor pools are free of charge for swimming during the summer.

The recreation center’s outdoor pool after repairs and repainting of its Keith Haring mural in 2014 thanks to The Keith Haring Foundation. (Photo by Jonathan Kuhn, NYC Parks)

A projects tracker on the Parks Web site says “The Dap” construction work is scheduled to finish by next month. That had at least one Village Sun reader excited recently at the prospect of once again “taking the plunge” into the classic swimming spot. (Actually, no diving allowed.)

“I’ve been following the progress and it says completion by April 2024,” Beth Joy Knutsen said. “Are they saying it won’t be done? That would be seriously fakakta after three years,” she said, using the Yiddish word for “messed up” to express her frustration.

In fact, the project tracker needs to be updated since the entire viability of the building is hanging in limbo. Per the Parks spokesperson, “We are continuing the emergency structural stabilization work at Tony Dapolito Recreation Center while we evaluate the facility. We will keep the community board updated as we move forward with evaluating the facility and next steps.”

The overall project’s completion date was initially set for 2020, but was subsequently extended three times. In July 2022, Jorge Prado, the Parks deputy director of architecture for capital projects, reported to the C.B. 2 Parks Committee that the work’s scope had significantly expanded.

According to the minutes of the committee meeting, “Four rounds of probes have uncovered, during what started as a somewhat limited project presented to our committee, serious structural degradation. These findings forced both an expanded project scope and the Department of Parks and Recreation to close the building and [indoor and outdoor] pools. This extra work, along with the COVID closure and construction pause, has extended the project that started in 2019 beyond the target reopen date of 2020, then 2021, then 2022 — now the target date is summer 2024.

“Currently, there is a great deal of internal shoring (scaffolding), and work is going on inside and on the exterior of the building,” the minutes continued. “There is netting outside, too (which went up in 2012), to protect patrons and staff from falling masonry. The discovered structural deficiencies are to the west facade, the north facade and the dome above the gym (a Guastavino arch structure). The Parks Department is going to oversee the execution of the additional scope of work to stabilize the severely deteriorated facades and secure the areas in order to allow opening of the rec center. The pool cannot open until the west facade is stabilized and critical pool repairs are executed.”

In addition, Prado told the C.B. 2 Parks Committee back then that Parks has been exploring tearing down aged rec centers and replacing them with new buildings, like the Chelsea Rec Center, at an average cost of around $160 million. However, that would be for construction on a cleared lot. The Dapolito center, which was constructed around 1900, would first need to be demolished, which would make the project’s cost “significantly higher.”

The committee minutes also noted that one local complained that the closed rec center being out of operation for so long was causing “a quality of life issue,” attracting homeless people, drug use and trash.


  1. agee age agee age April 5, 2024

    what a predictable waste of time and resources — shameful!

  2. Jim Smith Jim Smith March 11, 2024

    Is any part of the interior building going to reopen this year? The gym, for instance?

  3. John W. Sullivan John W. Sullivan March 11, 2024

    Typical – years late and millions of dollars over budget.

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