Charles River Group Proposes Swim Park, Seeks Public Feedback

Donna Goodison
Boston Herald

The Charles River Conservancy wants swimming enthusiasts to put on their thinking caps for two brainstorming sessions on a proposed swim park in the Charles River.

The nonprofit will host planning meetings March 25 and May 17 to solicit ideas about how people would use the swim park, desired features and the design of the permanent swimming area that’s being pitched for North Point Park, on the Boston-Cambridge border.

A feasibility study determined the site based on criteria including no boat traffic, and access to a public park and public transportation. “Now we are starting to plan what such a swim park looks like,” Conservancy founder and president Renata von Tscharner said.

The Conservancy hopes the swimming area will be at least as large as a 50-meter Olympic-size swimming pool, with an area for laps and training, and a shallow section for families. A base of some kind would serve as a barrier between swimmers and river-bed sediment that poses public health concerns.

“Although you’re swimming in the river water, it’s a contained area,” von Tscharner said.

The Charles is safe to swim in health-wise for most of the year, according to the Conservancy, which bills it as the cleanest U.S. urban river.

“We’re seeing very good swimming opportunities throughout the summer months,” said von Tscharner, who hopes the initiative will help build awareness and lead to further water quality improvements.

“We will have very rigorous testing,” she said. “There are very strict rules by the Department of Public Health in terms of what’s acceptable for water quality.”

A crowd-funding campaign raised $25,000 for a river depth study and preliminary planning, and a team of MBA holders is studying

operation models. The Conservancy will seek funding from foundations, public sources and individuals for the as-yet-undetermined full project cost.