Swimming in the East River may once again become a reality. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is seeking ideas for a floating pool that would filter the water of the East River to allow for safe swimming, according to a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) released Wednesday. A similar idea was first announced in 2010 by the nonprofit +POOL, which has been working with the city for years, as THE CITY first reported. The pool would likely be built between the north side of Brooklyn Bridge and the south side of Pier 35 on the Lower East Side, according to the request.
The project would not be the first floating pool to open in New York City. As the city became more crowded, and therefore more concerned with public health, officials opened pools to serve as public baths, with the earliest built on the Hudson and East Rivers beginning in 1870.
By 1890, the city was home to 15 floating pools. But increased pollution of NYC’s waters made the baths unusable, and all facilities were taken out of commission by the 1940s. Today, the only remaining floating pool in the city, and the entire country, is in the Bronx. Although this pool, dubbed the Floating Pool Lady and located at Barretto Point Park in Hunts Point, is chlorinated.
According to the city, a floating pool “will restore a lapsed tradition of river swimming dating back to the 1800s of the first floating bathing areas in the East River, and further the city’s goal of improving access to recreational waterfront space.” The pool would be one of the first urban river-sourced swim facilities in the U.S.
The team behind +POOL released its design for a self-filtering floating pool almost a decade ago. The complicated process has involved working with the city and local stakeholders, as well as conducting site feasibility studies at 11 spots and studying the city’s water quality.
Renderings of the group’s project from 2017 reveal a plus-shaped pool with four pools in one: a kiddie pool, a sports pool, a lap pool, and a lounge pool. The walls of +POOL would filter the water to remove bacteria and contaminants. Kara Meyer, the deputy director of Friends of +POOL, told THE CITY that they are “looking forward to responding,” to the city’s RFEI.
Responses to the request are due no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1. Find more information about submission requirements here.