Will There Soon Be a Swimming Hole Along the Charles River?
For the fourth year in a row, a few brave souls are cannonballing into the Charles today.
But soon, swimmers may not have to wait for a CitySplash event to go for a dip in the formerly dirty water. Today, the Charles River Conservancy released a new study addressing the feasibility of installing a permanent swimming facility along the Charles River.
The study, created in partnership with design firm Stantec, proposes a swimming-hole like structure at North Point Park near the Zakim Bridge. The study includes a rendering of the facility and asserts that with continued investment in the Charles’ water quality, a permanent swimming area is indeed feasible.
“Due to decades and hundreds of millions of dollars of remediation, Boston and Cambridge are poised to set an example for other American cities by leading the country with a safe and innovative swimming facility that is accessible and beautiful,” said the conservancy’s founder and president, Renata von Tscharner, in a statement.
“We want to challenge perceptions that the river is filled with dirty water. The Charles River is the cleanest urban river in America—let’s create a place to swim in our river!”
In order to make the swimming area a reality, the conservancy launched an Indiegogo campaign. The goal is to crowdsource $25,000 for further testing, planning, and design of the facility. Donation prizes include a swimming lesson with an Olympic swimmer and a tour of Make Way for Ducklings sculptor Nancy Schon’s studio.
The report details the benefits a swimming area would bring to the area around North Point Park and the nearby the Lynch Family Skatepark, which Stantec designed last year.
“Because of its flexible lawn spaces, direct access to the river, nearby connections to the MBTA, proximity to several Hubway bike rental stations, and proximity to other amenities and new development, North Point Park could be an ideal location for a permanent swimming area on the Charles,” reads the study.
The Boston Globe points out that since the Department of Conservation and Recreation oversees the park and the river, state officials would need to look at construction costs, operational costs, and public safety factors before anything could be built.
Plus, the river has a long way to go in terms of cleanliness before it can be swimmable every day.
“It might not be possible to swim every day of the year, but the days that it is possible, we want to have swimming available so that people can enjoy the river,” Von Tscharner told the Globe. “We are looking at our riverfront in a very different way than we did a decade or two decades ago.”
Robert Zimmerman Jr., executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association, echoed that sentiment.
“After years of hard work, we have seen a remarkable resurgence in the health of the river,” he said in a statement. “Work remains, but we know we can get there, to fully restore this beloved natural system for both humans and wildlife.”