Brooklynites may be able to doggy-paddle, scissor-kick, swim laps and do cannonballs in the East River this summer — without having to touch its murky waters.
The state’s economic development agency told The Brooklyn Paper this week that the Floating Pool — a swimming hole built on an old barge — may open as a public swim center this summer off the Brooklyn Heights waterfront, despite longstanding rumors that the coveted barge was headed for Greenpoint.
“We’re working on getting the Floating Pool up for the summer,” said Errol Cockfield, a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation.
Cockfield said the pool would be parked between Pierrepont and Joralemon streets, near the location of the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront open space and condo development.
“It would be free,” added Cockfield. “But all the details are not finalized.”
The Floating Pool has been bobbing tantalizingly close to Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO since October 30, when the retrofitted barge arrived from New Orleans. At the time, the pool’s mastermind, Ann Buttenwieser, told The Paper that the Brooklyn Heights layover was just a teasing pit-stop.
“[The state] was generous enough to offer free parking,” she said.
That the pool might open to the public this summer in Brooklyn Heights is only the latest chapter in the quarter-century history of the barge, whose future seems to change as frequently as the tide.
Many places have laid claim to the barge — first Hoboken, then Greenpoint, and even, reportedly, the South Bronx.
All the while, Buttenwieser raised funds to buy an old barge and retrofit it.
Now the pool, with its seven, 25-meter swimming lanes, rainbow-topped dressing rooms and white canopies, will summer in Brooklyn Heights.
Cockfield couldn’t say whether the pool would be a permanent fixture, or whether it would relocate, as originally planned. But local swimmers hailed the prospect, even if it was merely a summer fling.
“That’s awesome,” said Fredrik Anderson, of Fort Greene, who normally treks to Crown Heights a few times a week to take a dip. “Oh yeah, I’d definitely go over and check it out, at least for novelty’s sake. It sounds kind of fun.”
His was not the only interest piqued by the prospect of the pool.
“I would definitely try it out,” said Irene Janner, of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “I’m supposed to swim, according to my orthopedist. So it sounds good to me.”
Janner speculated that it would sound good to the rest of the community, too.
“When we surveyed people about what they would like in Brooklyn Bridge Park back in 1986, a lot of people talked about a pool.”
Buttenwieser wouldn’t talk about the pool this week, but once said that floating ponds are actually a pretty old-fashioned concept.
“In the 19th century, the city had 15 of these,” said Buttenwieser. “Originally, they had slats on the bottom to keep people from falling out, but they used river water. By 1915, the health department … forced them to close.
“Then the city enclosed five of them, and they continued to operate until 1930s,” she added. “By then, they were using city water. They stopped using them [when] Robert Moses built in-ground pools.”
With land ever scarcer and ever more expensive now, Buttenwieser thought it was time to resurrect the concept.
Renderings of the pool are available on Buttenwieser’s Web site, www.floatingpool.org.