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Call it the “Adopt-a-Pool” program.
Borough President Markowitz made good on a promise to show up in swim trunks on Sunday to support efforts to open the shuttered Double-D Pool in Gowanus, but the Beep did not have a silver bullet solution for getting the city to take the watering hole off its budgetary hit list — calling instead for an outside corporation to pony up the $200,000 that the city says it will save.
“Somewhere in America or beyond [there is a company that] would look on this pool and say, ‘Let’s save the day, let’s sponsor it,’ ” Markowitz said, suggesting that an athletic equipment or swimsuit manufacturer jump into the budgetary breach.
The Parks Department has said that it needs to close the Double-D pool as part of a $2.6-million cut in the agency’s $23.2-million “recreation services” budget.
Several pool lovers among the 100 or so gathered at the “Save Our Summer” rally (see our video here or on the screen above) questioned Markowitz on the need for a private-sector savior when there is already complete agreement on the need for the pool from so many elected officials — including Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) and Councilmen Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Steve Levin, in whose Williamsburg-Park Slope district the pool at the corner of Nevins and Degraw streets actually sits.
There is even a Facebook page devoted to saving the pool.
Markowitz said that his office’s budget, which is slated to be cut from $5.5 million this year to $3.8 million next year, does not include discretionary funding, though the borough president does have 39 salaried staffers, plus additional budget lines that provide nearly $1 million for postage, lighting, and printing costs.
There is also an unexplained allocation of $303,000 for “special expense” in the mayor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
Other elected officials offered equally little red meat for the steamy crowd.
Levin offered his support, but added that city agencies have been ordered by the mayor to make $400 million in cuts — and that he and his Council colleagues are working feverishly to restore pools, senior centers, after-school programs and other vital services.
Lander suggested that the wealthiest New Yorkers — he specified “hedge fund managers” — need to pay more in taxes.
“We need to ask for just a little more for those most able to pay,” he said, adding that the city opened 11 public pools during the Great Depression, yet during the Great Recession, Bloomberg has ordered four such cool-off spots closed for the summer.
“Mayor LaGuardia knew that even in tough times, we need a city that comes together, and that our public facilities are where we build public resolve to face tough times together,” Lander said. “Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg has not learned that lesson and has taken the opposite approach: what we do in tough times is make them tougher.”
Still, Markowitz held out hope that $200,000 would be found in time for the pool’s original opening date of June 29.
“Two hundred thousand dollars is a very modest sum to give to these kids and their families a wonderful summer,” he said.
He doffed his shorts and revealed his swim trunks, though declined to take off his shirt.
“I’ll take the T-shirt off when this pool reopens,” he vowed.
A Parks Department spokesman said that the agency has had no discussions with any corporate sugar daddy, but did say that there is a precdent for such a donation.
In 1991, philanthropist Sol Goldman donated about $1.8 million to keep pools open during that year’s fiscal crisis.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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