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Splashy plan for pool in NYC's East River unveiled

Wednesday - 4/23/2014, 9:04pm  ET

This artist's rendering provided by Plus Pool, Tuesday, April 22, 2014, shows a swimmer in the proposed floating pool which is to be positioned in New York's East River close to the Brooklyn shore. The pool, which is scheduled to open in 2016, would be the first of its kind because it's made of filtration material designed to make dirty river safe for swimming. The lower Manhattan skyline is in the background. (AP Photo/Plus Pool)

MICHAEL R. SISAK
Associated Press

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 if they win approval from the city, the U.S. Coast Guard and other government entities.

Project co-founder Archie Coates pitched the pool as be clean, safe and good for the environment and public perception. The goal, he said, is to "change the way New Yorkers see the river by giving them a chance to swim in it."

A city spokesman did not respond to questions Tuesday about the permitting process and the city's approach to privately built works intended for public use.

The pool's backers said it would be 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 would be anchored to the river bed and have a walkway to shore, but a permanent location has not yet been determined, they said.

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

Co-founder Dong-Ping Wong said the Plus Pool would 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 would be cycled back into the river, he said.

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 would cover the $15 million cost to build the pool.

The pool team said it is testing and improving the filtration system using a floating laboratory 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 in need of a public relations and environmental makeover.

It's smelly, dirty and, whenever sewage and storm water back up, 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 Kramer tried swimming in the East River's rapid currents and was confused for a dead body.

Wong said the Plus Pool, if realized, would be open to all, with sections 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, he said.


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