Our goal is to build a safe, fun, and accessible seasonal swimming facility in the Charles River to be enjoyed by all. The CRC wants to celebrate the environmental success and improvements to the Charles River’s water quality. We also want to connect people to the river and inspire continuing advocacy for the Charles’ health. For safety reasons, swimming in the Charles River is only allowed if a permit is obtained from MassDCR, so the CRC is working towards a seasonal space for it. We believe reclaiming urban swimming will bring a unique recreational opportunity to the Greater Boston community and inspire more river stewards.
The combined efforts of the Stantec feasibility study and the Childs Engineering bathymetric & side scan sonar survey show that North Point Park is a potential location for the future swim park. Locating a swimming facility at the existing dock at North Point Park is feasible, given several assumptions, and the CRC continues to do further research necessary about the site. As with all novel projects, challenges will be encountered, and the CRC will work with stakeholders and partners to address them.
Working with a marine engineer, the CRC is currently refining the design, with the goal that it be safe, accessible and welcoming.
The following are examples of some of the elements and amenities being considered:
- Accessible entry points so that all may partake in the swim park
- False bottom to keep swimmers from touching the sediment of the river and allow for a variety of controlled depths for different swim abilities
- Varying depths to accommodate swimmers of different levels, as well as different types of programming
- Decks for lounging and walking
- Fencing to keep swimmers in the designated area and to keep the pool secure after hours
- Unique features that can add elements of fun
We are still in the research phase of this project and this design is subject to change.
The proposed location for the swim park is North Point Park in East Cambridge. The site offers numerous benefits, including flexible lawn spaces, nearby connections to the MBTA, Hubway bike rental stations, and other amenities and new development.
Roughly in reverse chronology:
- Partnered with a Northeastern University environmental engineering PhD candidate to study water quality at North Point Park for the summers of 2017 and 2018. Results have been shared with state agencies and the Executive Summary is available.
- Engaged marine engineer to bring design to 30%
- Partnered with Tufts University to complete a comprehensive study of six urban river initiatives in the United States.
- Worked with MBAs at Community Consulting Teams to develop a preliminary operations and financial model.
- Hosted two successful Swim Park Charrettes, engaging approximately 100 community members in public brainstorm sessions to talk about their ideas and concerns about the project.
- Received front-page features in the Boston Globe and coverage by dozens of other media sources.
- Completed a bathymetric survey of the Charles River bottom to establish depths are adequate for swimming at North Point Park.
- Raised $25,600 on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo with 299 backers.
- Released a feasibility study of the proposed location at North Point Park through a partnership with Stantec.
- Programming: The CRC will continue to meet with the swim community, including those that run aquatics programs, swim clubs and triathlon training groups to understand needs and develop programming.
- Operations: Building off of the preliminary financial model, the CRC will refine the operations and fiscal plan for the facility.
- Design: Utilize programming and operations information to advance the design and begin permitting.
If you have expertise that can help with these steps, please reach out to Taylor Leonard, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lead image rendering of possible swim park design by Stantec.