Splashy plan for pool in NYC's East River unveiled

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Associated Press

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 22 at 4:36 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Forget schlepping to Jones Beach or down the Jersey Shore. A Brooklyn design team said Tuesday that New York's East River could be the next great place for a summer swim.

The backers of the floating Plus Pool — an Olympic-sized structure with cruise-like decking — said they're on course to drop anchor in mid-2016.

And, they said, it'll be clean, safe and good for the environment and public perception.

The goal, project co-founder Archie Coates said, is to "change the way New Yorkers see the river by giving them a chance to swim in it."

Designers, engineers and environmental scientists showed off plans and discussed the project at an Earth Day press event.

They said their pool is different from all other floating pools — the city has had one at Barretto Point Park in the Bronx since 2007 — because it is designed to filter river water into safe, swimmable water.

The Plus Pool will be anchored to the river bed and have a walkway to shore, the designers said. A permanent location has not yet been determined.

Project spokeswoman Kanessa Tixe said pool proponents have been in talks with several locations, including Brooklyn Bridge Park. Ideally, she said, the pool will find a home in the East River, but the Hudson River and Governor's Island are other options.

The project still needs various government approvals, the designers said.

Co-founder Dong-Ping Wong said the Plus Pool will be like a "giant strainer," built from filtration material that can remove bacteria and contaminants from a half-million gallons of polluted river water each day. That clean water will be cycled back into the river, he said.

The pool team said they are testing and improving the filtration system using a floating laboratory anchored at Pier 40 in the Hudson River.

They said they are also monitoring the river and are partnering with Google to launch an online app broadcasting water quality data in real time.

It's an East River — actually a tidal strait, if anyone asks — in need of a public relations and environmental makeover.

It's smelly, dirty and, whenever sewage and storm water back up, downright dangerous. And, it has a place in city lore as a supposed dumping ground for the cement-shoed victims of mob hits.

The television series "Seinfeld" took a good-natured swipe at the river in a 1997 episode when wacky neighbor character, Cosmo Kramer, tried swimming in the East River's rapid currents and was confused for a dead body.

Wong said the Plus Pool will be open to all, with sections built for children, loungers and avid lap swimmers. It may carry a small admission fee or sponsorships to cover the cost of maintenance and compensation for lifeguards.

More than 3,000 people have contributed nearly $275,000 to a Kickstarter campaign to keep the pool project afloat. Supporters can also sponsor one of the pool's 70,000 tiles for $25, $199 or $249. If each is sponsored, Coates said, it'll cover the $15 million cost to build the pool.

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