Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Feasibility Report On Potential Swimming Access Sites Along The Hudson

Feasibility Report:

Sections of the Full Report for Easier Downloading:


Appendix III Summary of Water Quality Data for the Development of Swimming Facilities:

Executive Summary


In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, millions of people swam in the Hudson River every summer, from public beaches along the river's length or in floating pools located along Manhattan's shoreline. Worsening water quality conditions, increasingly stringent public health codes, liability issues and increased costs in operating beaches caused many of these facilities to close. Swimming in the Hudson River was largely abandoned, limited to a handful of public beaches.

Beginning in the 1960s the federal and state governments adopted and implemented significant environmental laws intended, in part, to restore the water quality of our rivers, streams, and lakes. This public investment - culminating in the passage of Governor Pataki's 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Environmental Bond Act - has resulted in remarkable improvements in the cleanliness of Hudson River water. Today, water quality improvements in the Hudson River allow us to once again consider expanding opportunities for public swimming, addressing significant needs of the citizens of the Hudson Valley and the New York City metropolitan area and allowing the public to more fully enjoy the benefits of its investment in a cleaner Hudson River.

The purpose of this study was to identify feasible sites for public swimming along the Hudson River from the Troy Dam to the Battery in Manhattan. The status of existing beaches was also examined, and recommendations were made for improvements at these sites. In addition, the study identified places on the river where swimming could potentially take place in the future with continuing improvements in water quality. In locations where beaches are not physically possible, the study also examined opportunities to create alternative swimming facilities. The findings from this study should be considered as the results of a preliminary analysis rather than recommendations for site development.

This study was conducted pursuant to the 1998 Hudson River Estuary Action Plan released by Governor George E. Pataki and was undertaken as a partnership project of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP). The Action Plan is a blueprint for the NYSDEC and partnering state agencies to implement specific management actions along the estuary, addressing three general themes: conservation of natural resources; remediation of pollution; and public use and enjoyment of the river.

Governor Pataki, in his 2004 State of the State Address, called for plans to improve the health of the Hudson River by 2009 - the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's exploration of the Hudson River on the Half Moon - so that the Hudson River will be swimmable from its source in the Adirondacks to New York City.

Description of Study

An initial inventory of potential beach sites was developed through mail surveys, public meetings, and site visits. This effort resulted in a list of 60 sites. Sites with insurmountable obstacles were eliminated from further review, and field surveys of the remaining sites were conducted. Each site was given a numerical score based on selected criteria, including: beachfront conditions, accessibility, hydraulic conditions, water quality, and feasibility of construction and operation of a swimming facility. The screening resulted in the selection of 17 potential swimming sites to be subjected to a more comprehensive review, which focused on health, safety and environmental considerations, and site feasibility. In addition, five existing public beaches along the river were also studied in order to identify potential improvements and to develop cost estimates of such improvements.

Following this evaluation, these sites were classified into four groups:

  1. Potential Improvements to Existing Swimming Sites
  2. Feasible New Sites
  3. Potential New Sites Requiring Additional Action to Become Feasible
  4. Potential New Sites With Substantial Barriers to Development

Additionally, options for sites not suitable for development of a typical beach were studied (i.e., floating pools at Hudson River Park and Mills Norrie State Park).

Summary of Findings

I. Site Specific Studies

A. Potential Improvements to Existing Swimming Sites

The study determined that four of the five existing Hudson River beaches would benefit from improvement. They are:

  • Saugerties Village Park (Village of Saugerties, Ulster County)
  • Ulster Landing County Park (Town of Ulster, Ulster County)
  • Kingston Point City Park (City of Kingston, Ulster County)
  • Croton Point County Park (Village of Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County)

The total cost of capital improvements for these four beaches was estimated to range from $1.3-2.1 million. Operating costs were not estimated for these sites, since it is not expected that the capital improvements would increase current operating costs. The fifth existing site, Port Ewen Municipal Park (Town of Esopus, Ulster County), has been closed due to the presence of aquatic vegetation. Potential improvements to this site were not explored because no solution to the aquatic vegetation problem has been identified.

B. Feasible New Sites

Of the 17 potential sites studied, five were identified as feasible with no additional action necessary, other than the construction of a beach and related facilities and the approval of the property owner. All five of these sites are publicly owned. The cost of developing these five sites is estimated to be about $5.5 million for capital improvements and $200,000 per year for operating expenses. The five sites are:

  • Stuyvesant New York State Office of General Services (NYSOGS) property (Town of Stuyvesant, Columbia County)
  • Kowawese NYSDEC Unique Area/Orange County Park (Town of New Windsor, Orange County)
  • Riverfront Park (Town of Stony Point, Rockland County)
  • Rockland County Park (Town of Haverstraw, Rockland County)
  • Kingsland Point Westchester County Park (Village of Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County)

C. Potential New Sites Requiring Additional Action to Become Feasible

Eight sites were identified as potentially feasible but in need of significant additional action, such as land acquisition, water quality classification change or resolution of potential conflicts with other public policies. The total cost of developing beaches at these sites is estimated to be approximately $3.5 million, not including the costs of land acquisition, water quality improvements, and other needed actions. Operating costs were not estimated for all sites in this category, but can be expected to fall in the range of $25- $40,000 a year per site. These eight sites are:

  • Henry Hudson Town Park (Town of Bethlehem, Albany County)
  • Schodack Island State Park (Town of Schodack, Rensselaer County)
  • Four Mile Point (privately owned, Town of Coxsackie, Greene County)
  • Mills Norrie State Park (Town of Hyde Park, Dutchess County)
  • Little Stony Point State Park (Town of Philipstown, Putnam County)
  • White Beach (privately owned by Con Edison, Verplanck, Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County)
  • Nyack Beach State Park (Town on Clarkstown, Rockland County)
  • Hudson River Park (Borough of Manhattan, New York County)

D. Potential New Sites with Substantial Barriers to Development

Four potential sites were found to have substantial barriers to development due to sediment, water quality, or other local conditions. No costs were estimated for these sites. They are:

  • Bristol Beach State Park (Town of Saugerties, Ulster County)
  • Bowline Point Town Park (Town of Haverstraw, Rockland County)
  • Louis Engel, Jr. Waterfront Park (Town of Ossining, Westchester County)
  • Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park and Wickers Creek (Village of Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County)

Further information on these sites can be found in Section 6 of this report. It should be noted that these are preliminary findings based on physical characteristics. All potential new sites would require further site-specific analysis of water quality, sediment characteristics, environmental issues and other conditions to determine actual feasibility. Furthermore, sites proposed for development as public swimming facilities would require the support of the agency, municipal government or individual owning the property. Therefore, these findings should be considered as the results of a preliminary analysis rather than recommendations for site development.

II. Alternate Swimming Facility Options

Geotextile fabrics offer an option for swimming in waters with some bacterial pollution and are currently in use at beaches on Long Island Sound at Sea Cliff Beach in Sea Cliff, N.Y. They were used for several years in Mamaroneck, N.Y., as well. These custom designed fabrics are hung from a boom surrounding the perimeter of a swimming area. The fabrics are highly porous and allow interchange with ambient water but also act as a filter to prevent pollution from entering the area surrounded by the fabric. Bacteria counts were reduced by 62% at Mamaroneck Harbor Beach through the use of this technology. On the Hudson, use of such fabrics may make it possible to reduce swimming impacts on surrounding aquatic life and to protect swimmers from floatable debris.

Floating or barge mounted pools, a concept that is common in Europe, may offer a solution for locations where water depths or sediment conditions are not otherwise suitable for swimming. Design of floating pools for such situations may warrant further study. Historically, such pools were widely used along the shore of Manhattan; however, historic pool designs are not suitable for today's standards.


The study determined that there are several sites along the Hudson River offering both short-term and long-term promise as potential public beaches. For sites where physical barriers preclude beach development, or where local water quality precludes swimming, other options exist which may merit further exploration.