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Albany Continues Planning Future Of Lincoln Park Pool

When it was completed the Lincoln Park pool was one of the largest municipal pools in country and a model by which all others would be judged.
When it was completed the Lincoln Park pool was one of the largest municipal pools in country and a model by which all others would be judged.

The city of Albany is outlining plans for replacing the Lincoln Park Pool. 

For the past six months the city of Albany reached out to the community, gathering feedback as to what people would like to see the Lincoln Park pool replacement project accomplish.

Lincoln Park was established as Albany's first public playground in 1900. The 68-acre park's centerpiece swimming pool opened July 4th, 1931 and has been leaking since the day it was built, now up to 500,000 gallons of water a day.  It is rife with drainage and filtration issues. The city has been holding public input meetings on the park's future for some time now. In 2018, the Park Master Plan identified the need to have the pool replaced.

Dan Biggs with Western & Sampson, a landscape planning and design firm, says any pool design must meet current New York State Department Of Health requirements, as well as respecting the New York State Historic Preservation Office requirements for the site.

"The problems it has now, if anything is to be touched in this pool, it has to be brought to current code. There are significant cracks throughout the basin itself, leading to significant leaks. The bottom of the pool has been settling. For any of you that had been in the pool last couple of years, you can see that. The deck areas are fairly uneven around the perimeter. The concrete around the front of the water body is uneven, it should be even all around if it's to be a properly balanced water facility. So that is just evidence that it has settled over time. And all that fill in the Beaver Creek, Beaver Kill Creek, has settled unevenly, leading to structural deficiencies below the pool itself. “

Biggs notes the original design has made it imperative to staff at least 22 lifeguards when the pool is open in order to adequately monitor and assist swimmers. He says it isn't feasible to reconstruct or repair the pool in its current configuration. Biggs says an effort will be made to retain as many current features as possible in the redesigning process.

"Whether it's the pylons, bollards in the middle of the pool area or the center platform, or other characteristics that can be or to this extent possible to pay homage to what the pool has been.”

Biggs says a product advisory committee has been set up.  There will be an online survey accessible via electronic devices.  Neighborhood associations and citizen activist groups like A Block At A Time have been invited to add public comment.  A late summer workshop meeting will be held to develop ideas.

A majority of public comments offered during a recent online session favored maintaining the pool's current configuration. Some said they had a hard time believing that such a reconstruction isn't feasible. Former Albany Common Councilor Dom Calsolaro sides with those who want to preserve the existing pool for its historic value.

“We've already had meetings. We've already had the community come out and say we want to keep the pool the way it is.  And as I wrote in the chat, I'm sure in today's day and age there is a way to recycle water and get it back into the pool, once it's designed so that it’s not leaking, so that all the waters are going down the drain. They do it in housing complexes today, they recycle the water even recycle it through toilet bowls. And we use the water today. It's nothing new, it's not a new idea it's been done, it's can be done. So something I would like you to look at.”

Officials stress "nothing has been pre-formed at this point." Additional meetings will be held, leading up to a "final recommended alternative."  A working design going forward into 2022 is expected by November.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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