Swimmers take to pools despite reported scuffles
Reports of fights at the city's public pools have not deterred Gotham swimmers from taking a dip.
One parks advocate, however, said he's concerned the incidents, which have led to arrests and more police presence at pools, are a sign of bad things to come this summer.
Geoffrey Croft, the president of the nonprofit parks watchdog group NYC ParksCroft, said the pools lack the proper staff to maintain order, as the city has cut 100 Parks Department officers, or 42% of its force, in the last four years due to budget cuts.
"They have really dropped the ball when it comes to security," he said.
On Wednesday, a 22-year-old man was arrested for allegedly throwing a lifeguard into the water at John Jay Pool on the Upper East Side, police said. The Manhattan arrest came days after two alleged scuffles at Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool, which opened just last week.
Several pool-goers said they weren't scared by the antics of a few bad seeds.
"I read those reports and I was cautious, but it's really just kids doing small roughhousing," said Amanda Wolff, 24, of Williamsburg, who visited the pool twice this week.
More uniformed and plainclothes officers were deployed to McCarren Pool after the second incident and there have been no reported complaints at McCarren since then, the NYPD said.
Croft added that similar incidents have taken place at other pools over the last few weeks, including at Central Park's Lasker Pool, the largest of the 70 public pools in the city.
He predicted similar mishaps throughout the summer due to the lack of proper Parks security.
"It's going to heat up in a lot of ways," Croft said.
James Hennessey, 55, of Williamsburg, who swam in the original McCarren Pool before its 28-year closure, agreed and said the city needs to beef up security.
"It re-opened fine but they found out the hard way that this is going to be trouble," he said of the lack of police presence.
A spokeswoman for the city Parks Department said the McCarren and John Jay incidents were isolated and all of their pools have large security teams. Swimmers at other pools across the five boroughs concurred.
"I've seen a few moms crack down [and] yell at kids but nothing out of the norm," said Shawna Vogeltanz, of Harlem, who swims at Lasker Pool.