The Beef at McCarren Pool

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

McCarren Pool in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg, Brooklyn reopened last week to some (to my eyes) mild violence:


As Jonathan Marvel, the project's architect, put it, "As architects, it is our goal to contribute spaces that inspire community involvement and face time with each other." 

Within days, that excitement has been replaced by apprehension. Two fights at the pool on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border and several arrests confirmed the fears of some residents that the pool, with a capacity of 1,500, might draw an unruly crowd to a neighborhood divided among older residents of Italian and Polish descent, gentrifying newcomers and Hispanic families. 

What should have been a simple kickoff to summer in New York has turned fraught, with capacity crowds, racially charged debates and complaints that the city should have committed more resources to the opening, from sanitation to security. 

"I'm not happy and not because of the pool, but because of the fighting," said Tony Otero, 71, who has lived near the pool for 25 years. "It's not good for the community. It's trouble. All kinds of kids are coming here."

As the Times at least some of the kids who started fighting aren't actually from that far away. Toward the end of the story, we see that the NYPD will now have plainclothes officers working the pool. I'm actually shocked that they didn't have this in effect on day one. 

Maybe I'm jaded but if I re-open a pool in New York, on a hot day, to much fanfare, I expect a crowd, I expect kids, and I expect beef. It is by no means shocking that some kids decided to rush a lifeguard instead of listening to him. You need cops there. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/07/the-beef-at-mccarren-pool/259448/