CITY OF NEWBURGH — Camden Jackson climbed the inflatable ladder to reach the top of a steep, blue water slide at Tyrone Crabb Memorial Park in the hot sun on Tuesday. When he got to the top, he was huddled in fear.
Three-year-old Camden’s mother, Jazmyne Jackson, cheered him on from the ground, alongside the long line of children waiting their turn on the slide.
“Come on, dad,” she called, “I can’t get up there!”
It did not work. Camden was petrified. Jackson climbed onto the slide and looked up at him.
“I see you!” she said to Camden, who was stuck in the corner upstairs. “Come on!”
Finally ready, Camden shot down the slope. Water splashed over him below. His mother cheered.
New rules: New York is asking state employees to get a COVID vaccine or undergo regular testing
‘A floating desert:’ How COVID has exposed the lack of pool access for poor and minority children
Lack of lifeguards in Dutchess: Why it’s happening and how it will affect public pools
But then her friend’s two-year-old son climbed the inflatable mountain. Like Camden, he sat on top, frozen with fear. Jackson climbed onto the slide and helped push him down the slippery descent.
“How am I supposed to get down?” she called to her friends below.
But she knew the answer. She laughed and took the plunge.
The atmosphere on this almost 90 degree day at Tyrone Crabb Park was like an outdoor children’s party. Music from the phone of the city’s Recreation Director, Sam Sutton, played over a speaker. There were two large water slides rented from the Rec department. The Newburgh School District provided breakfast and lunch. There were tables for arts and crafts, like flip-flop decoration, and sports equipment for simple field games. Everything was offered free of charge.
But on a hot day like Tuesday, the water activities were the most popular.
“It’s a blessing,” Kathleen “KB” Bey said repeatedly. Bey lives on Johnston Street and brought her 6-year-old granddaughter, Chela, to South Street Park.
“It would be too much for her (chela) to walk all the way to 9W to the pool like I used to do with my daughter, her mother,” Bey said.
Newburgh’s pool at the Delano Hitch Aquatics Center is currently closed and in need of a $1.4 million repair, said Sam Sutton, the city’s recreation department director.
Key items to repair include:
- Modernization of the 20 year old filter room, valves and piping;
- update of the entire pool surface;
- Repairing the deteriorating concrete on the deck, including the stairway and retaining wall;
- Repairing the heavily sunken ramp and ensuring it is ADA compliant; and
- Upgrading of the locker rooms and concession building and other cosmetic adjustments to the locker rooms.
The pool, which Sutton referred to more as a paddling pool, was not designed to develop swimming skills.
Having a public pool can be crucial in a downtown area where most people have limited yard space for a private pool. Owning a pool and maintaining it can also be expensive.
Sutton will soon be meeting with city planning and development groups to present some options for a new water supply. That includes turning the venue into a giant splash pad, replacing the current pool with an upgraded Olympic-size pool, or having a splash pad and pool combination, he said.
Activities at Tyrone Crabb were part of the Recreation Department’s Summer Playground Series. Each week that summer the department rotated to a different park in Newburgh’s many boroughs. From August 2nd to 6th there will be activities from 9am to 2pm in Hasbrouck Street Park, which is just west of the William Street junction. Newburgh has been promoting the Playground series schedule on his Facebook page.
Due to the pool repair, it was especially important to get the water toys directly to the residents. In addition, the city has opened fire hydrants in various parts of the city during heat waves or particularly hot sunny days.
But even if water activities resume at the activity center, Sutton wants to continue the park rotation because getting to the pool can be difficult for residents who live farther from Washington Street or on the north side of Broadway.
Sutton, a native of Newburgh, recently relocated to the area from Pennsylvania. Growing up, he said, he spent a lot of time at the community pool. But now he’s noticed some changes in the neighborhood that could impact pool-goers.
“I’ve lived by the pool, but one thing I’ve noticed since coming back here is that now everyone’s kind of segmented and separated into their own areas,” Sutton said. “Broadway is a real line. It’s like a pool or an ocean of sharks that people don’t cross. Either way.”