Officials want Astoria Pool, high-dive restored for plays

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (second l.) takes the stage with Greek American rock band, Iskandar. Photo by Christina Santucci
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It might not be filled with water, but the pool at Astoria Park filled with music Saturday as the city Parks Department organized an event to promote its refurbishment.

Parks and elected officials are vying for a grant to restore the Olympic-sized pool and three-tier diving board, which has been deteriorating after decades of neglect.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski is asking fans of the park to cast their votes for the project, one of 40 in the city competing for a grant from Partners in Preservation, headed by American Express through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization created to preserve historic landmarks.

Historic sites across the five boroughs are competing for a portion of $3 million in grant money offered through Partners in Preservation. The Queens sites vying for the grants include Astoria Pool, Flushing Town Hall, the Rocket Thrower statue in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Queens County Farm Museum.

Officials are asking anyone interested in voting for their favorite location to log on to from now until May 21.

Lewandowski hopes votes for Astoria Pool come in waves.

“We want to make Astoria Pool the most popular place in the city. We need people to vote every day until May 21,” she said. “Let’s restore this pool and utilize it as a performance space.”

The plan, according to Lewandowski and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is to build a stage over the pool and use it for concerts and theatrical plays. The councilman and parks also want to restore the high-dive platform and integrate it into the performances.

Vallone, who last year allocated the $1 million toward converting the public performance space, said the diving platform could have unlimited use in art productions.

“I picture Juliet calling to Romeo from that diving board,” said Vallone, at the Music & Arts Festival in Astoria Park Saturday afternoon. “It’s going to look great. It will sit between these two bridges [the Hellgate and Triborough bridges] and I think it will evoke theaters of ancient Greece and Rome.”

Parks has $1 million locked in toward the construction of a performance stage in the existing diving pool area and the creation of a canopy over the site’s bleachers.

Vallone said he plans on setting aside even more money for the park and hopes to add concessions to the theater once it is completed.

The project is currently at the design stage and is expected to take 18 months to complete, according to Vallone’s representative.

Astoria Park’s main pool, a popular summer destination for Queens residents, attracts more than 100,000 visitors each season, according to Parks. Officials hope the performance center will draw even more visitors.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 7:26 pm, May 9, 2012
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