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Patience Wearing Thin Following Several Incidents At McCarren Park Pool

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Patience is wearing thin at the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool.

The facility just opened, and already lifeguards have been attacked, a police officer assaulted and the lines have been very long.

Tuesday morning, pool-goers were lined up long before the gates opened at McCarren's brand-new $50 million facility.

"I'm the first in line, been here two times, haven't been able to get in and I come from South Ozone, Queens," Nancy Figeroa told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reports


Most were carrying towels and sunscreen, but most also wearing a thin coat of anxiety, Brown reported, after several violent outbursts since the pool opened less than a week ago.

"I'm kind of scared because you don't know if someone is going to walk around with a gun, and people are not gonna know when the cops are not around," said 11-year-old Richard Coloado.

"I have an 11-year-old child and I would like to come to a pool and not feel threatened by the teenagers and their unruly behavior," said Diana Morales.

McCarren was closed in the 1980s, largely because of safety concerns, but recently reopened with promises of more security and a new beginning.

"This pool has an illustrious past and it certainly has a bright future, too," Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted at the reopening ceremony.

Within the first few days, though, there was a flashback to that "illustrious" past, Brown reported. A lifeguard was allegedly assaulted. On Monday, three people were arrested for ignoring pool rules and there were reports of assaults on police officers.

A 20-year-old, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old were all charged with assault on a police officer in the 2nd degree, inciting a riot, menacing, criminal nuisance and disorderly conduct, 1010 WINS reported. The police officer was treated at Bellevue Hospital.

Michael Mertyris lives around the corner, and he said he's already fed up.

"I mean, come on. Two cops got punched in the face last night, what does that tell you?" Mertyris said. "It's absurd, it's really absurd."

Park officials said they're doing everything they can to keep all city pools safe, vowing to kick out anyone who violates the rules.

"Yesterday, three youths were arrested after ignoring orders from lifeguards and security to stop running and diving into water less than 5 feet deep, and several others were escorted out by police officers," said Assistant Commissioner Michael Dockett of the Parks Department. "The pool remained open. Every day since opening, the pool has operated at full, 1,500-person capacity throughout the day. Parks Enforcement Patrol is present at all large city pools, and visitors who repeatedly violate the rules lose their right to use them."

Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey echoed that statement saying, "Thousands of New Yorkers are enjoying McCarren Park Pool's beautiful renovation, getting exercise and keeping cool during this heat wave."

"The few minor incidents have not impacted the vast majority of pool attendees, just as similar incidents at pools across the city don't stop New Yorkers from enjoying themselves," Jeffrey added. "NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol officers will continue to staff McCarren and the other large pools as they always do."

Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Parks Advocates, told Brown they need to do more.

"Unfortunately, it's expected, because the mayor and elected officials have not allocated enough resources to secure and protect the people that are coming here," Croft said.

"Basically for the past few days, actually since the pool opened, you've had two parks enforcement officers and two police officers per shift. That's not enough for 1,500 people," Croft told CBS 2's Don Dahler.

On Monday a woman reported that her purse had been stolen out of the lockers, Brown reported. Croft told Brown that is the fifth instance of a locker break-in at the pool. Parks officials told the woman there are no security cameras near the lockers. Since then, the NYPD has assigned five additional officers to the pool, CBS 2's Dahler reported.

Do you feel safe going to public pools? Sound off in our comments section below. 

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