Feb. 4, 2016 By Michael Florio
Bathroom waste from the Astoria Park pool and a nearby playground have been flowing into the East River for decades through pipes that were not connected to the City sewage system, according to the Parks Department.
The agency discovered the problem last spring, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski told the Astoria Park Alliance at their meeting on Tuesday.
She said that when designers were working on a longstanding project to transform the Astoria Park pool’s defunct diving pool into an amphitheater, they discovered that the septic system did not connect to the New York City sewer system.
The Astoria Park pool was built in the 1930s and pipes from the pool, concession stands, and neighboring Charybdis Playground have been pumping into the East River ever since.
“People cared less about the environment [then],” Lewandowski said.
The Parks Department worked with the Department of Design and Construction to fix the problem. They were able to obtain an emergency contract last summer, which allowed them to upgrade the pool facility’s septic system immediately.
“That was a big problem and we needed to correct it,” she said.
“All the waste from the pool’s toilets now go into tanks, which go into the sewer system,” she said at the meeting. “They no longer go into the local waterway.”
The facilities had to close last summer to allow the work that would fix the issue to occur.
While the pool waste issue was corrected last summer, the sewer lines from the Charybdis Playground bathrooms are still being repaired.
Those bathrooms will remain closed until 2019. Temporary bathrooms will be provided while the facility is closed.
A petition to repair and re-open the bathroom has so far garnered 620 signatures.