March 21, 2023
Part of $147 Million Investment in Southeast Queens Swimming Pools and Recreation Center
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue, and New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley today announced $55 million in additional funding for the creation of a brand new indoor pool and repairs to the existing indoor pool in Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, Queens. This investment builds on $92 million previously announced in December 2021 to build a brand new recreation center in the park. The planned pool will be competition sized and allow the city to offer more New Yorkers swimming classes and programming.
“Our city’s public pools and recreation centers offer New Yorkers of all ages, but especially our young people and our seniors, a place to grow, learn, and build community,” said Mayor Adams. “This $55 million additional investment to build a new, competition-sized pool and repair the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park means more residents of Southeast Queens will have access to swim classes and critical programming, as well as another outdoor space to enjoy their summers. We’ll continue to invest in public space and infrastructure that brings swimming, recreation, and lifelong fitness to the front door of every New Yorker.”
“Our pools are watering holes where communities gather to take refuge from the summer heat. This administration recognizes the importance of these pools and it’s our responsibility to make sure that they’re high quality, safe, and accessible,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Thousands of New Yorkers will be able to take advantage of this great investment in our beloved Roy Wilkins Park. Thank you to NYC Parks for advocating for quality swimming opportunities all across our city.”
“New York is a city of water, and beyond being an excellent source of recreation, swimming is a vital and life-saving skill,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Donoghue. “This new $55 million commitment from the Adams administration for a new pool and renovations to the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park represents a major step towards increasing swim equity in Southeast Queens, and we look forward to expanding our swim programming for the community at this new upcoming facility.”
“Every neighborhood deserves access to affordable recreation opportunities that improve physical and mental health,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We are very pleased to expand the plan for the new Roy Wilkins Recreation Center and to include it in our design-build pilot program, which will reduce the project timeline by at least two full years compared to lowest bidder contracting.”
As part of this additional $55 million in funding, $40 million will go towards the creation of a new pool that will be completed by DDC, with $15 million going towards repairs to the existing pool, which will be completed by NYC Parks. Design for the new pool will begin in 2024, and will be built as part of the new recreation center in Roy Wilkins Park.
The new recreation center will be located on Merrick Boulevard between 116th Avenue and Baisley Boulevard. It’s envisioned to be approximately 35,000 square feet with spaces for a gym and numerous fitness and multipurpose rooms. Construction of the new center will be led by DDC using the design-build method.
"After decades of systemic disinvestment, the children and families of Southeast Queens deserve nothing less than state-of-the-art community facilities, and that is exactly what we are proudly delivering, both with this new, modern pool and this historic community center in Roy Wilkins Park. This space will be more than just a place where our kids can learn to swim and our residents can cool off in the summer - it will be a holistic investment in the overall health of the surrounding community," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "Roy Wilkins Park has long been a much-needed recreational haven for Southeast Queens, and I could not be prouder to have played a key role in bringing these projects to fruition on behalf of the families like mine who rely on the park. I commend Mayor Adams and Commissioner Donoghue for their commitment, fiscal and otherwise, to make this day a reality."
"During the pandemic, it became more apparent than ever before, investment in our parks, is critical." said New York State Senator Leroy Comrie. "I thank and commend Mayor Adams, Borough President Richards and NYC Parks for providing this funding to add a second competition-sized pool with full support infrastructure at Roy Wilkins Park. Our youth and families, as well as our older adults, fondly known as the "Senior Dolphins" will be afforded the opportunity for increased healthy activities and recreation with a brand-new pool and upgrades to the existing one. Our local aspiring aquatic athletes will also benefit from the opportunity to participate in regional high-level competitive events to be held right in our own community as a result of this tremendous investment."
“Learning to swim is a matter of racial justice as Black and Brown communities suffer disproportionately from a lack of access to water safety and swimming education,” said New York State Assemblymember Khaleel M. Anderson. “This investment for a new indoor pool at Roy Wilkins Park will empower and enable the Southeast Queens community to address these inequities while promoting health and safety.”
“Roy Wilkins Park is an historic, essential space where residents of every age in Southeast Queens can meet, play, exercise, and access programming,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “These are needed community amenities that will benefit generations to come, and allow even more residents to access pools and learn to swim. I'm proud to see community spaces in Southeast Queens be a priority for funding and investments, and I thank the administration for their work to make this a reality.”
“One out of four New York City kids don't know how to swim, and 16 city council districts –serving more than 2 million New Yorkers – don't have access to a single public pool. This investment in Roy Wilkins Park in southeast Queens is a great start to bringing quality pools and swim instruction to the communities that have long needed them,” said New York City Councilmember Shekar Krishnan. “I thank Mayor Adams, NYC Parks Commissioner Donoghue, and Queens Borough President Richards for this project, and I stand ready to support the continued push to bring more pools to more new Yorkers.”
“Having spent many years as an adolescent at Roy Wilkins, and as an advocate for community-driven initiatives, I am thrilled that Mayor Eric Adams followed through on our collective request and made a $55 million investment in Southeast Queens for swimming and other recreational activities through the creation of a brand-new indoor pool for the new center and making repairs to the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Park,” said New York City Councilmember Nantasha Williams. “This development represents a significant investment in the well-being of our community and emphasizes the importance of providing equitable access to safe and modern recreational facilities. I believe that this new pool and recreation center will not only benefit the local community but also serve as a model for future investments in public infrastructure throughout Queens.”
“New Yorkers deserve access to high-quality pools and swimming education. Roy Wilkins Park is a jewel in the Southeast Queens community, and I celebrate the announcement of this $55 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art indoor pool and the renovation of the park's existing pool,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “I have recently introduced legislation, Introduction 982-2023, to increase the number of pools and swimming education offerings citywide, and I look forward to further investment in both swimming infrastructure and programming, which residents so desperately need citywide.”
Currently, there are two other NYC Parks-operated indoor pools in Queens, including the existing pool in Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, as well as the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatics Center. Outdoor pools include Fisher Pool, Fort Totten Pool, Astoria Pool, Liberty Pool, Marie Curie Park Pool, PS 186 Playground Pool, and Windmuller Pool.
NYC Parks is one of the largest providers of free swim classes in the city and, in a typical year, NYC Parks reaches more than 53,000 New Yorkers, including 34,000 children, through aquatics programming. NYC Parks’ free, year-round aquatics programming allows New Yorkers to make swimming a lifetime recreation and fitness habit.