Heard Around Town

Kathy Hochul wants floating pools in New York

“Let’s get creative,” the governor said of the pools that filter river water.

A rendering of a floating pool in the East River.

A rendering of a floating pool in the East River. Courtesy of PlusPool

Floating pools may come to a body of water near you under a new proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

Hochul announced on Friday that the state would make available $60 million in competitive grants for municipalities to study the prospect of building filtered pools that would float in public bodies of water like lakes or rivers. She was joined by New York City Mayor Eric Adams at her fourth preview of a State of the State proposal, and it’s part of the governor’s broader pitch to open or build out more pools, which she said would be the largest expansion of swimming access since the New Deal. “Since then, engineering has made a lot of strides,” Hochul said. “Let’s get creative.”

In New York City, the initiative Plus Pool has been trying to build a floating pool in the East River for over a decade. On Friday, Hochul also announced that the state would invest $12 million to get that open for testing by summer 2024 and open for public use the following summer. The city has committed $4 million. “Do you know how long we’ve fought for this?” Adams said of the Plus Pool initiative, which has been in the works since 2010. “We’ve had a city of no – any new invention, everyone said no to.” The city approved the pool for an East River location on the Lower East Side back in 2021, which would use river water with the help of a filtration system.

In addition to the innovative floating pools, Hochul’s announcement also included a $60 million grant program to renovate existing pools and build new ones in high-need communities, as well as a $30 million grant program to support pop-up swimming pools in urban areas. The governor’s investment proposals were met with praise not just by the mayor, but also by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “With additional state capital investments into pools, New York is taking significant steps to advance equitable access to swimming skills that are critical for all New Yorkers,” Adams said in a statement, noting that one in three Black students in the city can’t swim.