Astoria, Parks
Sep 20, 2016

An Update on the Astoria Diving Pool

An update on what’s going on in the space that is/was the Astoria Park Diving Pool.

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astoria-park-diving-pool-to-become-amphitheater-weheart-astoria-astoria-park-allianceSpoiler: a dedicated performance space is not happening at the location of the old Astoria Diving Pool.

But let’s backtrack a bit.

Last week I saw this video of the Women’s Platform Olympic Trials from 1964:

Additional videos from the Trials here, and here.

These films of the 1964 Olympic Trials are such a delight and so fun to see the diving pool when it was in use—clean, functional, and serving its original raison d’etre. I love glimpsing the Triboro Bridge and the smokestack on the building that is now the Pistilli Riverview East building.

I got curious about the status of the performance center that I’d heard was going to be installed where the diving pool is, and looked around online for an update. Back in 2012 a page dedicated to this project was put up on the Parks site; the NY Daily News reported on it in early 2013; and there is a Times Ledger article about the “performance space project” with a new moniker: the Astoria Park Diving Pool Amphitheater. We even shared an update last year. Multiple millions of dollars have been allocated and the hope—at that time—was to start construction in Spring 2016.

I reached out to Meghan Lalor at Parks for the most current update, and here’s what she said:

“The project is currently in design. We expect the design to be finalized this fall, and for the project to go out to bid in the spring.

The project was originally designed as a performance space and put out to bid in 2015, but the bids we got back were significantly higher than our budget. At that time, we consulted with the local Council Member and together we decided it was best to redesign the project as a plaza. The dive tank will be filled in and the dive tower restored, but the modifications required to the entrances and seating needed for the performance space will not be undertaken at this time.”

This plaza will be more flexible, allowing for performances and public events of various kinds. On this detail, Meghan adds, “The plaza will be able to host a variety of programs, it will add more accessible area to the pool deck and the park, and it has the possibility to be used outside of the pool season.” The diving pool itself will be filled with cement.

Unfortunately for those who were hoping the tide would turn toward the diving pool being resurrected as, well… a diving pool, it seems like they are out of luck. Kathleen Springer is the most recent Astorian working to change the minds of the folks in charge to keep the diving pool intact. She even put together a petition, according to DNAinfo.

The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association is in favor of the performance space and has published a statement and a survey encouraging support for it. They also hope that part of the recent allocation of $30M to Astoria Park will go toward the performance space/now plaza, but a statement from Councilman Constantinides’s office clarifies that the money has already been allocated and the $30M will be used for other things. However, the Community Board 1 Capital and Expense Public Hearing is tonight, and likely folks from OANA will be there to voice their support for the performance space and additional funding. FYI, there will be a public visioning meeting in the future about how to spend the $30M, too.

As a reminder, here is a tracker page for the project, which Parks refers to as the Astoria Park Diving Pool Reconstruction. We look forward to see how it all shapes up.

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

3 Comments

Bri

I agree, it would’ve been great to have a place similar to Forest Hills. Any updates on the dog run that was approved for Astoria??

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Rita A

Astoria is home to so many performers. Maybe Tony Bennett would help out?

We should have a performance space, and the current set up of seating, and an entrance should make that doable.

So instead we will get more soccer? Come on.

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Matt A

I was really excited about a performance space there. Seeing concerts at Forest Hills Stadium is so fun…would be cool to have something similar here.

Thanks for the update :)

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