Randall's Island Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, September 9, 2003


Over Labor Day weekend, while the rest of us were sleeping in, going to the movies, and packing away our white shoes, Parks & Recreation’s Five Boro maintenance staff was hard at work readying the City’s pools for their annual ten-month hibernation. The process, known as winterization, is an all-day job, and is the first step in a series of pool maintenance procedures that keep the will last all winter long.

Winterization begins on Labor Day, while the pools are still open and are—in theory—filled with people. Although the rain and overcast skies kept our pools quiet this Labor Day, our staff was still busy. Pool filter plant operators spent most of the day filling out an end-of-the-summer survey, dispatched by Five Boro Operations. The survey, distributed annually, asks filter plant operators to inspect carefully the pools one last time, checking for leaks, listening to the pumps, and making sure that the water is flowing correctly. Any problems in the pool’s operations must be reported on the end-of-the-summer survey, so that maintenance crews can address them in the winter months.

When the surveys were complete, maintenance crews began readying themselves for the next phase of winterization: drainage. Every pool in New York must emptied at soon the pools close, and, as you might have guessed, draining a pool is not as simple as pulling a plug in a bathtub. To ensure that every pool was ready for the big event, Five Boro plumbers and engineers spent their Labor Day visiting pools around the city and teaching every pool’s operators how the pool should be emptied. Plumbers and engineers explained in detail how to shut the pool’s motors off, how to close the main water feed valve and how to open the drains to let the water flow out. At 7:01 p.m.—the official end of the pool season—filter plant operators all over New York put their new knowledge to good use and emptied the pools.

On Tuesday, September 2, the same group of Five Boro plumbers and engineers re-visited the pool to make sure that drainage was a success. They also removed the motors and cholirination pumps from underneath the pools and mini-pools in order to take them back to Randalls Island for re-conditioning. The removal of the motors also ensure that all the water is drained from the pipes in the pool’s drainage system. Artie Rollins, Chief of Technical Services, described the process this way: "When we pull the motors, about 90% of the water is bled out of the pipes. We get rid of any remaining water by draining small bleed valves in the piping."

Once the pumps and motors are brought back to Five-Boro, the real work of winterization begins. All the chlorination pumps are rebuilt and the motors repaired. The Five Boro staff also begins working on their annual pool maintenance/reconstruction project. This is a massive maintenance project and requires about one million dollars of capital funding. Five Boro maintenance staff give every pool a thorough tune-up, repairing piping, water lines, gauges, valves, and motors that were too large to remove over Labor Day weekend. Broken motors and deteriorated pipes are replaced completely. Finally, pool tubs are repaired and repainted. When their work is completed, the pools look as fresh and new as they did when they were first built, which, in the case of some pools, was over 65 years ago! If good maintenance is the key to longevity, it looks like our pools are going to last well into their golden years.

Written by Hannah Gersen


"All systems go. Everything is A-OK."

John A. Powers


Directions to Randall's Island Park

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