Two Bronx council districts lack public pools, though incorrect city data said otherwise

pool dean photo
After discovering inaccurate city data, the Bronx Times found that two council districts in the Bronx lack public swimming pools.
Photo Dean Moses

A report from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ office identified the Bronx’s Council District 13 as the only district in the borough without a public pool, but a Bronx Times analysis found that District 14 also lacks one, revealing flawed NYC Parks data.

In her 2023 State of the City speech, Adams said there are 16 out of 51 City Council districts across New York City without a public pool, as part of her push for better pool access. In the report that was released in conjunction with Adams’ March 8 speech and that she promoted on Twitter, a map illustrates District 13 in the East Bronx, which is represented by Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, as the only district in the borough without a public pool.

But a review by the Bronx Times found that although District 13 does lack a public pool, so does District 14 in the West Bronx, which is represented by Councilmember Pierina Sanchez. And with the redrawn council district boundaries that were finalized in October and are being implemented in 2024, District 18 in the Southeast Bronx, which is represented by Councilmember Amanda Farías, will become a third district in the borough without a public pool.

According to Jorge Muñiz-Reyesa, a City Council deputy press secretary, the map in Adams’ report was based on current district lines, which are set to expire at the end of 2023. But still, it misrepresents Sanchez’s district.

The Bronx Times found that data behind the map classified Claremont Pool as part of Sanchez’s District 14, but the pool is actually part of Althea Stevens’ District 16, both in the current and 2o24 district lines.

After the Bronx Times pointed out this discrepancy, Muñiz-Reyes blamed NYC Parks for the error. The NYC Council data team relied on publicly posted Parks data for the speaker’s report, which NYC Parks coded incorrectly, he said.

A map shows that District 13 is the only council district in the Bronx without a public swimming pool, but the data was faulty. Map courtesy NYC Council

The Bronx Times also found two other Bronx pools that were labeled with the wrong district in Parks’ data, meaning 30% of the borough’s pools were incorrectly categorized.

“We want to be putting out accurate information and of course, relying on the agency professionals to accurately tag and quote their data, which at least in this instance was incorrect,” Muñiz-Reyes said.

The Parks dataset, which according to NYC Open Data was last updated on Feb. 9, also uses outdated names for Foster Pool and Thompson Pool, which were called Mullaly Pool and the Bronx River Playground (also known as Playground 174) Mini Pool up until last year.

Within its nine council districts, the Bronx currently has 10 public pools, two of which are closed for renovations, including St. Mary’s in Mott Haven, the borough’s only public indoor pool, and the Edenwald Houses Mini Pool, according to NYC Parks. Neither pool is slated to reopen until after the summer.

Most of the borough’s public pools will remain in the same council districts under the new 2024 maps, except for Thompson Pool, which will be redrawn into Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s South Bronx District 17 lines instead of Farías’, and Crotona Pool, which will shift from Salamanca’s district into Councilmember Oswald Feliz’s District 15 to the north.

Adams’ 2023 State of the City report also declared her intentions for the council to advance legislation requiring the Parks Department and Department of Education to develop a plan to make school pools accessible to the public year-round, offer free swimming lessons at city pools and identify locations for new public pools in environmental justice (EJ) areas, or areas classified as low-income or minority communities using U.S. Census data, according to the city.

The bill will be introduced in the coming days, Muñiz-Reyes told the Bronx Times on Tuesday.

Dan Kastanis, NYC Parks spokesperson, told the Bronx Times the department is “constantly looking for ways to expand and improve access to swimming across the city.”

Velázquez said in an email to the Bronx Times that she supports bringing a public pool to her district, and her office frequently gets calls requesting youth swim programs. A specific location in the East Bronx has not been identified for a pool, however. 

Parts of District 13 are EJ areas, while other parts are labeled “potential” EJ areas or not an EJ area, with the categorization depending on the block and not necessarily the neighborhood. Different parts of Throggs Neck fall into all three categories, for example.

“Bringing a public pool into our community could provide great new recreational activities for our families, especially our youth and seniors who are eager to be active,” Velázquez said in a statement.

Sanchez’s district, the other district in the Bronx without a pool, is almost completely made up of EJ areas, with the exception of the Bronx Community College campus area.

Sanchez told the Bronx Times that she has been in conversation with the School Construction Authority and Department of Education to repair and reopen a pool at Middle School 363 in her district, and hopes to explore other possibilities for more pools, whether in parks, schools or community centers.

“Our district has one of the lowest ratios of available public open space per resident in the City, and we are always in search of additional passive and active recreational uses,” she said.

Kastanis did not respond to an inquiry regarding the errors in Parks data.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes