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NYC makes waves with interest in floating East River pool

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Ever wanted to swim in a pool in a river? You may get your chance in NYC

An areal shot of the East River with two bridges spanning across it.
The East River.
Getty Images

New York City is taking the plunge toward a pool in the East River.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) posted a notice on Wednesday asking for would-be pool operators to submit plans for a self-filtering pool off of the Lower East Side—echoing a stalled project pushed by nonprofit +Pool that has been making waves for nearly a decade.

In the request for expressions of interest (RFEI) NYCEDC seeks plans from those “able to provide the public with a swim facility which is capable of filtering the waters of the East River to enable safe recreational access to clean water.” If realized, the effort would return what the proposal refers to as the “lapsed tradition of river swimming dating back to the late 1800s.”

The project would also be the first urban river swimming facility in the country, according to the proposal. The filtered pool concept was originally pitched to New Yorkers in 2010 by +Pool, which has been developing plans over the years for a 9,000-square-foot floating, plus shaped pool with environmental and engineering experts.

+Pool began talks with City Hall in January of 2016 and NYCEDC met with the group to discuss the project for the first time in February of this year, according to a spokesperson Christopher Singleton, a spokesperson with NYCEDC. The deputy director at +Pool, Kara Meyer, said her group wwas unaware of the city’s plans to issue the request and are excited to submit their bid.

“We didn’t know EDC was planning this, we’re looking forward to responding,” said Kara. “We’ve been trying to gain access to a site for a very long time.”

Meyer’s group had already looked into potential locations throughout the city’s waterfronts and seriously eyed a stretch of the East River just off of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but EDC’s project zeroes in on the Lower East Side during a time of tricky change. The neighborhood has a cadre of controversial luxury skyscrapers proposed for its waterfront, a neighborhood initiative to rezone part of the area in underway, and the East Side Costal Resiliency Project that would tear up East River Park to build flood protections is also in the works.

NYCEDC says it will evaluate proposals as received and will update locals throughout the process. Permits, approvals, and funding for the project will need to be secured by would-be pool operators.

Those interested in responding to the request, must do so by November 1.