There wasn’t a better time to celebrate the reopening of the Roberto Clemente State Park pool then the hottest day of the summer.
The first major heat wave of the 2011 summer officially hit the borough last week, and thousands of Bronxites were looking for a place to cool-off.
For the first time in two years, the pool at Roberto Clemente State Park was opened to the public, after much-needed renovations took longer than residents and officials had hoped for.
According to a digital thermometer by the pool, the temperature around the park soared to 105 degrees on Friday, July 22, and hundreds of Bronxites jumped in the pool as elected officials, distinguished guests, and Roberto Clemente Jr. celebrated the reopening of the park’s pool facilities.
“Generations of Bronx families have visited Roberto Clemente State Park to escape the summer hear, relax and have fun with family and friends,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Rejuvenating the park will provide a new much better experience for our visitors and ensure that Roberto Clemente State Park remains a family-friendly destination and important part of the community for years to come.”
During it’s renovations, upgrades were made to the main pool and dive tank, as well as the addition of new locker rooms, a spray pad area with over 20 spray features for kids, and a wading pool with a fountain.
The pool, which first opened to the borough in 1973, had deteriorated and was in need of a complete makeover. The pool area shut down after the 2008 summer and although renovations were not supposed to take longer than a year, the pool was shut down for two straight hot summers.
Senator Jose M. Serrano recalled using the pool when he was a youngster, and remembers it slowly going into disrepair over the years. However, he knew the park would finally get a facelift when the park’s director, Frances Rodriguez, stormed into his office with blueprints for a refurbished pool area.
“I lived in this neighborhood growing up, but I have never seen this pool so beautiful,” Serrano said.
NYC mitigation funds. Complete renovations were also done on the park’s basketball courts, including repaved courts, seating areas, and new lighting. A previously unused outdoor plaza was also converted into a shaded area for people waiting on line for pool access.
“When I was young, I remember asking my mother why they were naming a park in the Bronx after my father,” Clemente said. “The love and passion of the staff at this park is outstanding. The work to have this done took a little longer than expected, but it will be appreciated for many years to come.”