River pool appears unlikely to be part of plan
By Jeff Simms
Scenic Hudson hopes to gain approval next month for its plans to expand Long Dock Park in Beacon, but the land trust still faces criticism for its decision not to host the Beacon River Pool.
The organization’s proposal calls for adding lawns, café tables and chairs, a boardwalk and infrastructure for up to two food trucks on four acres that would complement the existing park, which opened in 2011. Eighteen parking spaces also would be added, bringing the total to 79.
Meg Rasmussen, a park planner with Scenic Hudson, said Nov. 16 that construction could begin in the spring if the Beacon Planning Board approves the proposal in December.
However, Scenic Hudson’s Nov. 9 appearance before the board — a public hearing continued from the month before — was dominated by discussion of its reluctance to provide a home for the 17-foot fiberglass river pool, which has been located at Seeger Riverside Park, 25 feet north of Long Dock, since 2007. The existing pool is nearing the end of its design life and sits in only three feet of water. More than 1,000 people use the pool each year, according to board members.
The river pool board inquired several years ago about moving the pool to deeper water near Long Dock Park, but Scenic Hudson declined, citing liability concerns.
At the Nov. 9 meeting, Rasmussen was peppered with questions about the pool. Board Chair Jay Sheers seemed puzzled, questioning how the organization could operate a kayak pavilion — one of the most popular features at Long Dock — but decline to work with the pool.
“To me,” Sheers said, “many, many more people know how to swim than to operate a kayak safely. It’s mind-boggling to me that that’s less of a liability than a staffed swimming pool.”
Rasmussen noted that Scenic Hudson doesn’t fear liability from swimming-related injuries, “but we would be liable under a suit where someone claimed there shouldn’t have been a river pool installed at all.”
Sheers wasn’t appeased. “You’ve had three neighbors on this project,” he said. “The yacht club you got rid of; you have the river pool that you’re driving out, and you’ve marginalized the sloop club, from my point of view.”
Rasmussen said Scenic Hudson has been mischaracterized as not wanting the river pool at Long Dock, but “from an organizational standpoint, we’re not comfortable with the liability that we would indeed have.”
Sheers shot back: “The oversight is making sure their insurance is up-to-date once a year. What else is there?”
Citing the inability to staff or manage a river pool, Rasmussen said the debate has detracted from the decades of work the land trust has put into Long Dock. “Scenic Hudson has provided this park in a place that was an oil storage facility,” she said. “It can be a little disheartening that there’s a perception that Scenic Hudson isn’t doing its part for river access.”
Rasmussen seemed to indicate on Nov. 16 that further discussions with the river pool are not likely, saying the organization gave its proposal “our greatest consideration.” River pool supporters have said they may have to relocate elsewhere on the river, outside of Beacon, if a suitable location can’t be found.