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Mayor announces additional $55 million in funding to repair pool at Roy Wilkins Park, build new indoor pool

Mar. 21, 2023 By Bill Parry

Southeast Queens families will see significant upgrades at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans after Mayor Eric Adams announced $55 million in additional funding for a brand-new indoor pool and repairs to the existing pool.

The investment builds on the $92 million announced in December 2021 to build a new recreation center in the oasis along Baisley Boulevard.

“Our city’s public pools and recreation centers offer New Yorkers of all ages, but especially our young people and our seniors, a place to grow, learn and build community,” Adams said Tuesday. “This $55 million additional investment to build a new, competition-sized pool and repair the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park means more residents of southeast Queens will have access to swim classes and critical programming, as well as another outdoor space to enjoy their summers. We’ll continue to invest in public space and infrastructure that brings swimming, recreation and lifelong fitness to the front door of every New Yorker.”

The planned pool will be competition-sized, allowing the city to offer more New Yorkers swimming classes and programming.

“New York is a city of water, and beyond being an excellent source of recreation, swimming is a vital and lifesaving skill,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said. “This new $55 million commitment from the Adams administration for a new pool and renovations to the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park represents a major step toward increasing swim equity in southeast Queens, and we look forward to expanding our swim programming for the community at this new upcoming facility.”

The new recreation center will be on Merrick Boulevard between 116th Avenue and Baisley Boulevard. It’s envisioned to be approximately 35,000 square feet with spaces for a gym and numerous fitness and multipurpose rooms.

“After decades of systemic disinvestment, the children and families of southeast Queens deserve nothing less than state-of-the-art community facilities, and that is exactly what we are proudly delivering, both with this new, modern pool and this historic community center in Roy Wilkins Park,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This space will be more than just a place where our kids can learn to swim and our residents can cool off in the summer — it will be a holistic investment in the overall health of the surrounding community.”

Southeast Queens elected leaders were ecstatic with the increased investment by the city.

“During the pandemic, it became more apparent than ever before: investment in our parks is critical,” state Senator Leroy Comrie said. “I thank and commend Mayor Adams, Borough President Richards, and NYC Parks for providing this funding to add a second competition-sized pool with full support infrastructure at Roy Wilkins Park. Our youth and families, as well as our older adults, fondly known as the ‘Senior Dolphins,’ will be afforded the opportunity for increased healthy activities and recreation with a brand-new pool and upgrades to the existing one. Our local aspiring aquatic athletes will also benefit from the opportunity to participate in regional high-level competitive events to be held right in our own community as a result of this tremendous investment.”

Councilwoman Nantasha Williams said the city is investing in the well-being of her community.

“Having spent many years as an adolescent at Roy Wilkins and as an advocate for community-driven initiatives, I am thrilled that Mayor Eric Adams followed through on our collective request and made a $55 million investment in southeast Queens for swimming and other recreational activities through the creation of a brand-new indoor pool for the new center and making repairs to the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park,” she said.

Speaker Adrienne Adams said she was proud to see community spaces in southeast Queens be a priority for funding and investment.

“Roy Wilkins Park is a historic, essential space where residents of every age in southeast Queens can meet, play, exercise and access programming,” Adams said. “These are needed community amenities that will benefit generations to come, and allow even more residents to access pools and learn to swim.”

Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson expounded on that point.

“Learning to swim is a matter of racial justice as Black and Brown communities suffer disproportionately from a lack of access to water safety and swimming education,” Anderson said. “This investment for a new indoor pool at Roy Wilkins Park will empower and enable the southeast Queens community to address these inequities while promoting health and safety.”

Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers recently introduced legislation to increase the number of pools and swimming instruction citywide.

“New Yorkers deserve access to high-quality pools and swimming education,” she said. “And I look forward to further investment in both swimming infrastructure and programming, which residents so desperately need citywide.”

Councilman Shekar Krishnan, the chairman of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, crunched the numbers.

“One out of four New York City kids don’t know how to swim, and 16 City Council districts — serving more than 2 million New Yorkers — don’t have access to a single public pool,” Krishnan said. “This investment in Roy Wilkins Park in southeast Queens is a great start to bringing quality pools and swim instruction to the communities that have long needed them. I stand ready to support the continued push to bring more pools to more New Yorkers.”

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