Cool Pools NYC pilot program goes to Mapes Pool

Cool Pools NYC pilot program goes to Mapes Pool
David Rivera jumped into the newly enhanced Mapes Pool during its opening day.
Community News Group/Sarah Valenzuela

All nine public pools in the borough have opened for the summer.

As children, parents and other Bronxites alike lined up to be the first in the water on Wednesday, June 27, the patrons of the Mapes Pool in East Tremont were treated to some new sights.

The pool had been enhanced and redecorated as part of the NYC Parks pilot program ‘Cool Pools NYC,’ with bold and attractive colors and signage that could be spotted blocks away.

Though the day was cloudy and gray, the energy and the atmosphere at the Mapes Pool could be heard and felt from afar as kids screamed in delight and played in the beautiful waterpark.

“I love the colors, it’s so creative,” said 7-year-old David Rivera before he jumped back in the pool.

The new designs of the pool area include brightly colored orange, yellow and blue murals of ice cream cones, giant sunglasses, beach balls and even a penguin.

In case any of these designs aren’t enough of a harbinger of the season, a giant mural of the sun was also painted on the wall.

“They made the pool look like it’s actually summer,” said 11-year-old Davis Kenneth Amir Walker as he took a break from playing in the water.

Along with the new designs and paintings, the pool also received some new furniture, including new sun umbrellas, new lounge chairs and even cabana-style shading, which many parents tested out for the first time while keeping an eye on their children.

“I love this and all these new chairs,” said David’s mom, Judy Rivera, as she lied poolside on one of the reclined chaises while watching her son.

Mapes Pool was one of five pools in underserved neighborhoods citywide chosen to take part in the program.

The area has over a dozen schools and a youth and community center nearby. The pool serves thousands of children each season, according to Community Board 6 district manager John Sanchez.

“The enhancements really bring more life to the area,” said Sanchez in a phone discussion about the pool.

It had initially been constructed in the early 1970s as a ‘vest-pocket pool,’ similar to the ‘vest-pocket parks’ of the time which were built on empty lots for underserved city kids, according to NYC Parks.

Prior to the current aesthetic modifications, the pool had remained virtually unchanged in appearance since it was built more than 45 years ago.

“The Mapes Pool enhancement shows that NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Mayor de Blasio are engaged in providing our community with the best of the best of what they deserve,” said Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa during the opening day of the Mapes Pool.

For now Mapes Pool will be the only one in the Cool Pools NYC program in the Bronx and plans have not been made to enhance the remaining public pools in the borough, according to NYC Parks.

Some of the other programs at Mapes and all the boroughs public pools include a partnership with the SchoolFood Lunch Program, according to Rodriguez-Rosa.

All the borough’s pools will serve free breakfast and lunch to all kids 18-years-old and younger.

The Mapes Ballfield is also scheduled for reconstruction and renovation in 2019.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at

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