By Rebecca Henely
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and Community Board 1 unveiled the schematic designs last week for an outdoor performing arts space to be built where the diving pool once stood in Astoria Park.
“It’s one of the few things that’s missing in northwestern Queens and it’s going to be a great addition to the borough,” the councilman said.
Vallone and other officials had announced in 2011 that the diving pool, located near 19th Street and 24th Road in Astoria and closed for decades, would be filled in and reworked, but progress on the plan has been slow.
“I would have liked to see this well underway before the end of my term as Council member,” said Vallone, who will be term-limited out of his position at the end of 2013. “It won’t be.”
One rendering shows the pool area filled in and decorated with bricks in a pattern. The triple diving board, which is landmarked, and the old pool railings along the poolside remain, although the gate currently surrounding the pool has been removed. Another rendering shows a new south side entrance/exit marked “Astoria Pool Amphitheater.”
Vallone said filling in the pool, refurbishing the surrounding area and building the new exit/entrance will cost $4.5 million.
“There’s been a lot of decay building up over the years, so it’s going to cost them,” he said.
Although he wishes that money could go further, he said he hopes that more can be done in the future.
“While this is going to be an awesome start, I do hope to provide future funding to make it even grander in scope,” Vallone said.
He said the location is excellent for a performance space and will look very beautiful in a park under the Hell’s Gate and the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough bridges, with the East River and the Manhattan skyline in view.
“I will work in any capacity I’m in next year to make sure this happens as quickly as possible,” said Vallone, who is one of several candidates running for borough president. “Hopefully, I’ll still be in public service.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.