Registration, ID system Eyed
Speaker Christine Quinn makes her way into a closed meeting last night at McCarren Pool to address security and public safety concerns. (Photos: By Geoffey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn paid her first visit to McCarren Pool last night for an hour long meeting held to address security and public safety concerns at the facility and surrounding community, A Walk In The Park has learned.
Since the pool's re-opening on June 28th, there have been a number of violent incidents and a number of people have been arrested at the $ 50 million dollar facility.
The meeting was convened by the offices of City Council member Steve Levin in conjunction with Speaker Christine Quinn and State Assemblyman Joe Lento after the last incident on July 17th when three people were arrested, according to Mr. Levin.
Speaker Quinn makes her way into McCarren Pool with a small entourage.
The invitation only crowd included numerous police personnel from the 94th Precinct including Deputy Inspector Hurson and community affairs officers, representatives from the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, a rep from Councilmember Diana Reyna's office, Community Board 1 members including it's Chair and District manager, and Public Safety and Parks Chairs, First Deputy Commissioner for Parks Liam Kavanagh, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, lifeguard union representatives from Local 508 including president Peter Stein, and Greenpoint Youth Court. No representatives from the Open Space Alliance North attended.
One attendee characterized it as a "responsible parties" meeting.
Police officials said they would maintain the current level of NYPD presents for the remainder of the season which people said they were generally happy with the increased police presents.
Councilmember Steve Levin opened the meeting saying, 'We can all agree that this has been a huge success, wildly succeeding our expectations and how wonderful it was.'
But it was Assemblyman Lento," according to sources, "that was the first to change the tone of 'like it's great but there are some obvious problems - things that need to be addressed.'
"He was the one who opened with the idea of registration to use of the pool."
Police and park officials have been searching for ways to try to address the numerous safety issues at the brand new pool which has already attracted more than 70, 000 people since it's opening according to Parks Department figures. One hope is to try and weed out bad elements. The idea of requiring a registration and ID system-similar to what currently exists for the morning and evening adult swims at Parks Department pools was discussed at length and was positively received.
Council member Steve Levin greets Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey last night.
"The question is how do we address these issues long-term so you don't have to have 16 police officers stationed there at all times," Levin said.
"The subject of having some kind of of Identification system/registration system came up and that was something that was pretty positively responded to. The question is logistics on that- but they do it at rec. centers, they do it at Metropolitan Pool. That seems like something that could conceivably have a deterring effect on bad behavior."
"If you have to write down your mom's telephone number than you might be less likely to do things that will have somebody call your mom to tell them to pick you up at the 94th Pct. station house," Levin said.
"That got a really warm reception," said one community member who attended the meeting and said the idea is to work towards implementing these changes to have then ready for next Summer.
"She asked a lot of questions," said the community member speaking about Speaker Christine Quinn.
"She didn't come in with an attitude of like 'this is all great everything is perfect,' she really wanted to hear from the police.
"She wanted to know how much of this was the media putting a negative spin on things and how much of this was truth. (DI Inspector) Hurson was very firm, saying 'these are actually very serious people that are doing these infractions. These are criminals these aren't just innocent teenagers caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.'
"This didn't come as a real surprise to her. I think she wanted to hear the truth about it. And that's good but what's to be done with that information is still though difficult and I think that's why we got right on to the idea of registering to use the pool. The idea is that might weed out the bad players."
"That was really warmly received," the attendee said.
"She's a really effective community organizer," Councilmember Steve Levin said of Christine Quinn, "She helped focus the issues and helped with concrete next steps."
Another idea being floated around is banning people who are arrested for pools incidents.
Leven said afterwards he would support such an initiative.
An informal banning system for trouble makers has long been used in Parks Department pools for years.
"The one thing that was clear - the ones that have been arrested - they have pretty serious rap sheets," said Levin. "They've been arrested for serious felonies. The guys that have been arrested have had some serious brushes with the law."
"Hurson (Deputy Inspector) went into gory details about the people arrested," said one attendee. "Every single person who's been arrested out of that pool, all have lengthy criminal histories. Even the 17-year-old who was arrested has fifteen priors."
Levin described the meeting as "positive"and "constructive."
Educating the public on pool etiquette and rules was a big topic at the meeting. New signage and audio elements were suggested that go over the rules including why they are important, for safety reasons.
He said they discussed, "What's working, what could use improvement. What are some ideas simple things like making sure when people are waiting on line they're getting educated on the pool."
"It is very disappointing they took this long to address these issues, " said the attendee after the meeting. "I felt heard, finally. There was a lot of nodding going on but the follow up will be the test."
Long-time State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol got the biggest laugh when he asked if there was an NYPD "speedo" clad unit that could intervene at a monuments notice for pool incidents. He was informed that there wasn't.
Among The Suggestions:
• Registration, ID system similar to morning and evening adult swim
• Banning Trouble makers
• Interpretive Safety Signage
• Educating People On The Use Of The Pool While On Line
In Other News: The Parks Department erroneously told officials including Council member Leven and the NYPD that NYC Park Advocates was having a press conference at the location during the meeting.
• DC 37 Local 983 vice president Joe Puleo was physically prevented from attending the meeting by Deputy Inspector for Parks Enforcement Patrol, Edwin Rodriguez, on orders from Assistant Commissioner of Urban Park Services Michael Dockett, sources said while representatives from local 508 - the lifeguard union - were admitted.
Despite repeated attempts the Parks Department press office refused to comment.
Deputy Inspector for Parks Enforcement Patrol, Edwin Rodriguez, (right) physically prevented DC 37 Local 983 vice president Joe Puleo (left) - who represents PEP - from attending the meeting.