After two years of furious fundraising, the end is in sight for all those Rosendalers and folks from surrounding communities who really miss the Town Pool at the Rosendale Recreation Center on Route 32. “The present status is that we will be starting demolition for the pool this season,” reports Town of Rosendale recreation director Tara Burke. “We’re about $100,000 short of the $1.2 million that we need.”
The old pool, which dated back to the 1940s, was closed in 2012 because its gunite liner was crumbling, and it has not reopened since. Public demand that it be repaired or replaced was immediate, loud and clear. So town officials retained an engineering firm to study the extent of the problem and estimate the cost.
“We were told two years ago that it would be a $1.2 million project, and we all hit the floor,” Burke recalls. “There’s about 3,000 taxpaying residents in this town. The pool is open to everyone from all of Ulster County; it’s not a club. But it’s the residents of Rosendale that the burden lies on. We knew we wanted our pool. We also knew that we weren’t going to bond for the full amount. We’re middle-class people; that’s too much to ask.”
At that point, says Burke, “It became a fundraising and grantwriting project. The town supervisor, Jeanne Walsh, hand-wrote the grants. The first year she tried for a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and just missed it by one.” Feedback on the failed application from the state agency suggested that Walsh would be able to up the point score on her next try by emphasizing the economic development benefits of integrating a refurbished pool into plans to position Rosendale as a heritage tourism destination.
“We’re becoming a tremendous tourist resource right now, what with the trestle, the pool, the bus stop, the bike shop, the 1850 House, the Rosendale Theatre, bed-and-breakfasts, the rail trail, Joppenberg Mountain, hiking…Jeanne was able to tie all that in as the economic development component of the grant. So in the second year, 2013, we went right to the top.”
That half-million-dollar Office of Parks grant was the largest chunk going toward the $1.1 million already raised. The next-largest came from the $188,000 pricetag of the old Rosendale Town Hall building on Main Street, which was recently sold after the decision was made to move the town offices to the new Rondout Municipal Center in Cottekill: the former Rosendale Elementary School building. A $50,000 grant awarded to the town years ago by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to replace the roof of the former Recreation Center was “shelved,” says Burke, when Rosendale decided to demolish the old building and replace it altogether. The monies allocated for that grant will now be applied toward the pool replacement project: “They saved it for us until we figured out something else that we could do with it.”
The annual town budget has been allocating money into a capital reserve fund that can be applied toward the pool project. Another $10,000 grant was donated by the Bruderhof in 2013, and the union of teachers displaced by the closing of the Rosendale Elementary School made a gift of some of their leftover contingency fund. And the Rosendale Pickle Festival designated the Pool Fund as the recipient of $5,000 out of its ticket sales last year.
Most of the rest of the money has been raised through “numerous little fundraisers” adding up to $21,257 in 2012 and $25,581 in 2013, according to Burke. She cites a firewood raffle, hot chocolate sales at the Frozendale festival, a concert called Rosenstock, a dance party, the Pool Fund’s table at the Rosendale Street Festival and an IndieGoGo donation page as some of the “lot of little things that added up.” A series of quarterly concerts for seniors at the Rec Center by “a wonderful duo from Brooklyn who have taken the project under their wing, the Elderly Brothers,” has raised more than $2,000.
Most recently, the Rosendale Theatre organized a Jazzfest weekend that brought in $500 in business sponsorships, in addition to ticket sales as yet uncounted as of presstime. And on July 4, Hudson River Valley Resorts opened Williams Lake to the public for a weekend summer swim program, all of whose proceeds will be dedicated to the Pool Fund. “For $10 per person you can swim all day,” says Burke.
Though another $100,00 remains to be raised, the town now feels confident enough that it can make its goal that work will soon begin on clearing the site for a new pool. “We’re now into contractor Request for Proposals mode, so we can get demolition started,” Burke reports. “I can’t guarantee anything, but our goal is to see water in that pool for 2015.”
So, future Rosendale Town Pool patron, have you made your contribution yet? You can donate online by visiting the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley website at www.dfhvny.org/give/yourlocalcommunity and selecting the Rosendale Pool Fund from the menu. Or you can mail a check to the Community Foundations, with “Rosendale Pool Fund” written on the “For” line, to Community Foundations/Rosendale Pool Fund, P.O. Box 3046, Kingston NY 12402. For $100 you can honor a loved one with memorial brick at the renovated pool site, inscribed with a message of up to 16 characters on three lines.