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Astoria dive pool being re-imagined

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (l.) said the long-unused diving pool in Astoria Park will be converted into a performance space. Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski (second from r.) joined him. Photo courtesy Peter Vallone Jr.
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Tuesday that Astoria Park’s long-neglected diving pool will get a $1 million renovation and be converted into a first-class performance space by 2013.

“I was ecstatic today to be able to announce this,” Vallone said. “It was something I wanted to see done for a long time.”

The councilman said he has lived close to the park, at 19th Street and 23rd Drive in Astoria, ever since he was young and the unused diving pool has been an eyesore in the community since he was a child.

He said the refurbishment, which will come out of the councilman’s capital money, is set to begin this month and will give the borough a sterling performance space, which he said is sorely needed.

“This long unused space will be transformed to bring music, theater and more to residents of Astoria and the borough of Queens,” said Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens commissioner for the city Parks Department, in a statement.

Vallone’s office said the renovation will pour concrete into the pool, dispose of debris, remove the small diving boards, build seating areas and flooring and create a concrete walkway around the perimeter. It will be completed in 2013.

“It’s really going to make Queens residents feel like they’re maybe back in ancient Rome or Greece,” Vallone said.

The councilman said the diving pool’s three-level diving board is landmarked and thus will remain where it is, but it will be refurbished. The performance space will seat about 1,500 people and will have access to electricity, allowing for night shows and concerts.

Vallone said Community Board 1 and the Central Astoria Local Development Corp. have been helpful in the creation of the plan. He said the members of the Astoria Performing Arts Center are also eager to put their imaginations to work on performances.

“It will draw people to Astoria and provide artists with a unique space to share their talents,” Taryn Sacramone, executive director for the center, said in a statement. “The location is absolutely inspired and the possibilities are endless.”

Another $2 million will also be used to refurbish Astoria Park’s pool house, providing structural improvements and giving it a roof, Vallone said. He hopes a café or concession stand can be put there.

The councilman said he would be hounding the Parks Department about this project, and he hopes it will be as successful and popular as the skate park that recently opened in Astoria.

“I only have two years left on my term,” Vallone said. “I want to see this done.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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