A €15 million outdoor heated swimming pool on the river Liffey would be developed at "zero" cost to Dublin City Council, councillors have been told.
The facility, which would include a cafe or bistro and saunas, is proposed for a site beside Seán O’Casey Bridge, next to the planned €23 million whitewater-rafting facility approved by city councillors last December.
In recent days some councillors and community activists have opposed the pool plan, saying the money would be better spent on housing or community facilities.
However, the council's docklands area manager Derek Kelly on Monday said the project would be entirely privately funded and operated, and would not cost the council any money.
“There is no intention of the city council to invest €15 million to do this ourselves,” Mr Kelly said. Outside of some expenditure on consultancy fees to establish if the project was viable, the cost to the council would be “zero” he said.
“We need to tease it out to see if there is an appetite out there from the international market to do this.” Similar examples in New York, Helsinki and London had shown there were “plenty of people who design build operate and finance these”, he said.
The council is proposing a €10 charge to use the pool, with concessions for those aged over 65 and families. The operator would pay an annual licence fee to the council for 30 years, after which ownership would revert to the council.
Mr Kelly pointed out councillors had suggested an outdoor pool or lido be developed when the whitewater rafting project was proposed.
Several councillors representing the southeast of the city were supportive of the plan.
"I think it does make sense. I like the project, I like big ideas, I think Dublin needs to have more big ideas," Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said.
Green Party councillor Claire Byrne said while she had concerns about water quality, she was "in theory" supportive of the project. "We can't just condemn every big ambitious project that we are proposing for the city. We have to think big some times."
Independents4Change councillor Pat Dunne said, if properly run, the project "could enhance the facilities citizens of Dublin have". However, he said the council needed to address the fact that its swimming pool in Crumlin was only open on a part-time basis.
Fine Gael's James Geoghegan said the proposal for a €15 million pool in the city felt like "two fingers to the people of Crumlin". He said he had "deep, deep suspicions" as to who was behind the proposal. Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the council should reflect on its associations with private funders following the collapse of the Parnell Square cultural quarter project. He added the Liffey waters were "unswimmable" last year.
Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne said the council should "stick to the knitting" and address issues such as vermin and weeds.