Would a Swim Facility that Doubles as a Floating Filtration System be a Net Plus?
A rendering of how +Pool would appear moored along the East River waterfront of Lower Manhattan.
Community Board 1 (CB1) is continuing a decade of grassroots advocacy by prodding the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider a proposal to create a floating pool in the East River, near the Brooklyn Bridge.
In a resolution enacted at its March 23 meeting, CB1 renewed its longstanding support for a proposal styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”), which would consist of a floating dock, surrounding a swimming hole (with a safety net on its underside) that would capture and filter the flow of the East River, and discharge newly sanitized water in its wake.
The measure noted that, “other Community Districts have multiple pools available for public use, but there are none within Community District 1 [CD1].” The resolution also argued that, “CB1 has long desired a greater enhancement of our East River area. The heart of this area is home to the origin of our great city, the South Street Seaport. Over the past two decades we have seen significant and consistent residential growth, with both families and seniors, yet community services and amenities are sorely lacking.”
It concluded, “CB1 reiterates its support for placing a +Pool or other such in-river swimming facility on the East side of CD1 . While we are conscious of the need for equitable distribution of programming, there is established need within CD1 and a dearth of community facilities to accommodate the growing residential population that must be satisfied.”
The concept behind +Pool began to germinate in the summer of 2010, when three friends—designers Jeffrey Franklin and Archie Coates, along with architect Dong-Ping Wong—wondered why there was no facility that would allow the public to swim in the Hudson or East Rivers.
Researching the idea, they realized that 150 years ago, New York had more than a dozen such accommodations. Called “floating baths,” they consisted of decks mounted on pontoons, surrounding a large water hole, with safety nets beneath. The river water passed through the nets, and the floating baths could be towed to almost any shorefront location in the City. By the 1920s, however, environmental despoliation had made bathing in local rivers unsanitary, and the vessels were scrapped.
The project takes is name from the cruciform shape of its outline. Here, +Pool is envisioned at the Brooklyn waterfront.
This idea was resurrected, in modified form, as a barge called the Floating Pool Lady, in 2007, when a foundation retrofitted the barge to enclose a 100,000-gallon swimming pool. In this case, the pool has a solid bottom and the water within is fresh, never coming in contact with the river in which it sits, and floats above. This vessel—currently the only one of its kind in the United States—is parked along the Bronx waterfront each summer.
But Mr. Dong, Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Coates were interested in a plan that would bring swimmers into contact with the actual water that surrounds this city of islands, albeit in a way that was posed no risk of drowning or disease.
They came up with +Pool, named for its cruciform outline. Like the floating baths of the 19th century, it features a webbed underside, rather than a solid hull. But the new design would include a water-filtering membrane, which would act like an enormous strainer, catching and retaining impurities. As a bonus, the system would disgorge half a million gallons of freshly decontaminated water back into the surrounding river each day.
In November, 2019, CB1 enacted a resolution calling upon the de Blasio administration to move ahead with multiple amenities planned for the Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade. Among these, the resolution said, “CB1 supports efforts to locate +Pool into the East River in the area between the Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17 and the design of the Esplanade should allow for the future incorporation of +Pool.”
Around this time, the +Pool team installed a full-scale model of their proposal in the East River, between Pier 17 and the Brooklyn Bridge. The installation was not for swimming, but instead was a demonstration piece that changed color, depending on water quality. The project generated considerable local enthusiasm.
Also in the autumn of 2019, the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) issued a request for expressions of interest from organizations willing 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.”
The same document specified a location, “in the East River between the northeast side of the Brooklyn Bridge and the southwest side of Pier 35” and cautioned that, “a successful Respondent will demonstrate that the construction, installation, and operation of a swim facility in the East River is possible without funding from EDC or the City.” This may prove to be a considerable hurdle, in that the estimated budget to build the +Pool prototype is $25 million. But the +Pool team is continuing to build public support, while also attracting both corporate and philanthropic sponsors, and raising money via a crowd-funding campaign.
Last month, CB1 received an update from City Hall on the prospects for +Pool, which indicated that EDC has thus far refused to amend the procurement documents to include the section south of the Brooklyn Bridge, and that the project had been on hold due to COVID. This briefing also confirmed, however, that EDC is returning to work on the project.
Eyes to the Sky
April 19 – May 2, 2021
Wildly twinkling stars
Astrophotographer’s statement “I threw Sirius out of focus and took this series of short exposures (1/25-second) with a 150mm telephoto lens on a Canon 5D Mark IV earlier this month [January, 2021]. The images are raw right out of the camera and not altered in any way. They show not only the star’s remarkable color changes but also its changing brightness as eddies of air of different temperature and pressure pass by.
At nightfall on April 6, on a visit to the countryside, I was drawn outdoors by an exceptionally clear, deep dark and starry sky. In every direction the stars were twinkling. From the southwest, flashing Sirius, the brightest of all stars seen from Earth, to pulsing Arcturus in the east, something out of the ordinary was happening. Sirius took hold of me, inspired me to concentrate my gaze to discern its white light fracturing into prismacolors. The star flickered, throwing off fragments of green, blue and red dazzle. It was like gazing at sunlight on snow or on jiggling dewdrops or a finely faceted diamond in daylight.
Above Sirius, it seemed a breeze in the atmosphere brushed by Procyon, Betelgeuse, Castor, Pollux and Capella, their twinkling reminiscent of wind lifting and twirling leaves in the crowns of trees. I walked north to a clearing to see the sky to the northeast and east. Everywhere, stars twinkled zestfully.
In my search for words to describe the science of twinkling stars, the astronomy columnist AstroBob came to my attention. I had already penned the headline “wildly twinkling stars” when I read Bob King’s wonderful description of Sirius: “Flashing wildly on turbulent nights, the brightest nighttime star is a mesmerizing sight.” I not only found the atmospheric context – turbulence – articulated in King’s writing, I found AstroBob the image-maker. His photograph, at the head of this article, is a rare record of a twinkling star. To my eyes, it is an artwork that captures the experience of seeing a twinkling star in time and space—a star that is most often visible as a single point of bluish-white light. King’s caption succinctly explains the science.
Online concert. During trying times, music stills our souls and provides a healing grace. Throughout the season of Lent, Comfort at One will present performances that are inspired by the Gandhi quote: “In the midst of darkness, light persists.” These concerts include improvisations by Julian Wachner, light-inspired Bach cantatas, our 2014 Lenten “Lamentatio” series featuring NOVUS NY and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, new performances from the Trinity Youth Chorus and St. Paul’s Chapel Choir, and new virtual content on Fridays from our extended family of artists. Free
City Preservation Agency Okays Plan for New Structure on East River Waterfront
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Corporation, the real estate firm that is redeveloping the South Street Seaport, and the City’s Parks Department, to create a new outdoor restaurant underneath the FDR Drive.
At a Tuesday hearing, the LPC praised the modifications to a 2019 proposal that would have placed a much larger structure (also beneath the FDR Drive) at the intersection of South and John Streets, blocking the view corridor of the East River, and eclipsing the historic tall ships docked on the waterfront. Community Board 1 (CB1) strongly opposed that version of the plan, and the LPC was guided by the Board’s judgment.
HRPT Moves Ahead with Plans to Recast Former Tow Pound as Waterfront Park
Lower Manhattan residents who use the Hudson River Greenway to traverse the waterfront will soon have another open space to savor. The Hudson River Park Trust has begun demolition and reconstruction work on Pier 76 (located at 12th Avenue in the West 30s, across from the Javits Convention Center), which will be transformed into an interim park by June. To read more…
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
The New Roaring Twenties
New York City Won’t Be The Same,
But It Will Be Great
A chorus of New York naysayers are telling us that the City will never be the same after this pandemic. They are right—but not in the way they think. New York City is on the cusp of another “Roaring 20’s,” and I, for one, can’t wait.
One hundred years ago we were recovering from a pandemic (the Spanish Flu) and a Great War that spread fear and death. New York is facing a similar trauma. Loved ones lost are never coming back. Some of us have lost jobs, homes, or even just our favorite restaurants. A century ago, when it was all over, people were ready to let loose—and let loose they did. I believe that a similar spirit is about to start a recovery that will reshape the city in exciting ways, creating new opportunities for many.
Nadler Proposes to Expand Historic African Cemetery with Museum and Education Center
Congressman Jerry Nadler is sponsoring to expand the African Burial Ground National Monument, the Lower Manhattan site that holds the remains of an estimated 15,000 African-Americans from the Colonial Era (both free and enslaved), with a new museum and education center.
On April 2, Mr. Nadler reintroduced legislation that would establish an African Burial Ground Advisory Council, which would manage the proposed museum, in partnership with the National Park Service (the agency that oversees the current National Monument). The new museum would additionally serve as a sister institution to Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. To read more…
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist 1809 – 1882
1713 – With no living male heirs, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 to ensure that Habsburg lands and the Austrian throne would be inherited by his daughter, Maria Theresa (not actually born until 1717).
1770 – Marie Antoinette marries Louis XVI of France in a proxy wedding.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: The war begins with an American victory in Concord during the battles of Lexington and Concord.
1782 – John Adams secures the Dutch Republic’s recognition of the United States as an independent government. The house which he had purchased in The Hague, Netherlands becomes the first American embassy.
1861 – American Civil War: Baltimore riot of 1861: A pro-Secession mob in Baltimore attacks United States Army troops marching through the city.
1927 – Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex.
1943 –Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.
He described what he felt as being:
… affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.
Three days later, on 19 April 1943, Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. This day is now known as “Bicycle Day”, because he began to feel the effects of the drug as he rode home on a bike. This was the first intentional LSD trip. (wikipedia)
It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation…. I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.
— Albert Hofmann, Speech on 100th birthday
Hofmann died at the age of 102 from a heart attack on April 29, 2008 in Switzerland.
1971 – Launch of Salyut 1, the first space station.
1987 – The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, first starting with Good Night.
1989 – A gun turret explodes on the USS Iowa, killing 47 sailors.
1993 – The 51-day FBI siege of the Branch Davidian building in Waco, Texas, USA, ends when a fire breaks out. 76 Davidians including 18 children under the age of 10 died in the fire.
1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of 6.
2013 – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar is later captured hiding in a boat inside a backyard in the suburb of Watertown.
Albert Hofmann during a discussion “about beauty” at the Zürich Helmhaus.
1613 – Christoph Bach, German musician (d. 1661)
1877 – Ole Evinrude, Norwegian-American engineer, invented the outboard motor (d. 1934)
1912 – Glenn T. Seaborg, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1999)