The River Pool at Beacon IN The Hudson River Opens for 2018!

 The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

As you play at Riverfront Park, known since 2014 as Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park, you may have experienced the extreme desire to swim in the Hudson River to cool off. Well, now you can - because The River Pool at Beacon is open again this year! Starting in 2007, five years after submitting construction plans to New York State, the pool opened to the public for the first time. The river pool idea was originally proposed by the pool's co-founder, Pete Seeger, according to the pool's History page.

What's a River Pool?

The river pool is netted and shallow, with a net bottom designed by Meta Brunzema Architect P.C., a New York City-based design firm. You could crawl on it, with a child on your back, pretending you are an alligator gliding just under the water surface. Or you could sit or stand in the shallow water, enjoying the breeze off the water and gazing up or down the river, thankful you aren't in the traffic moving (or not moving) on the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge. Or, you could simply sit on the colorful plastic seats and bask in the sun, slipping further into the water as you're ready.

River pools aren't unique to this spot - they have been around since at least 1830, up and down the Hudson River - but they were removed after 1930 due to water pollution. Pete Seeger was a major advocate for cleanup of the Hudson River. Thanks to his efforts as well as many other organizations including Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, the river has improved since then, and many groups and people continue to advocate in this direction.

Can Anyone Use the River Pool?

It's a free pool for all, thanks to support from individual donations, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Durst Organization, the Abrons Foundation, the Hudson River Foundation. The pool's organizers actually want to increase its size. They're working with another architecture firm to design a bigger pool, and they're talking with cities and towns to find the right location that offers agreeable environmental considerations.

What's It Like Swimming in the River Pool?

 The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

So fun. So relaxing. You're IN the river, just sitting there protected from the currents by the anchored netting. The pool is small, so you'll be near others as they dip in and out of the pool. The pool is also very shallow: An adult is up to their waist or thighs. The River Pool is fully staffed by lifeguards, and even has a changing room!

If thunder rolls in and you need to leave the pool and wait 30 thunder-free minutes to go back in, you could always shoot baskets at the park's basketball court, or play on the playgrounds. Or have a picnic on the grass (watch out for alllll of the goose poop).

An additional perk: Riverfront Park is very breezy, so you'll be cooled off quickly down by the river no matter what.

Is Swimming in the Hudson River Safe?

The Hudson River was contaminated by companies who dumped pollutants into it for many years. An ongoing effort to clean up the Hudson River has spanned several decades. As of today, it has reached cleaner levels, but is closely monitored by The River Pool at Beacon. Says a representative from The River Pool this year: "The quality in Beacon Harbor is definitely of concern. Beacon Harbor had a long run of low numbers. We hope this is a temporary situation. That said, the pool is off the north shore of Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. The water is tested every week by the county health department. We would not open if the water was not considered safe for swimming."

Swim For The Pool - From Beacon To Newburgh!

Fundraising continues for the pool with regular donations that you can make at any time, and during the 15th Annual Newburgh to Beacon Hudson River Swim, where you can sponsor a swimmer - or be a swimmer that people sponsor! See the Beacon to Newburgh Swim page for details.

Make a donation here to keep this all going, but don't worry if you can't. It was designed for all to be able to access and experience the Hudson River. See you at the pool!

5th Annual For Goodness Bake Sale Benefits Tuition Assistance Fund for Beacon's After School Program

It's here - the most delicious day of the year, when the Beacon community comes out to fundraise for a cause whether you like it or not. How could you not buy the delicious homemade brownies and cupcakes on sale at this year's For Goodness Bake, happening today, Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm at Catalyst Gallery at 137 Main Street?! This year's edition of the sale has already been dubbed "Best spread so far!" by Beacon resident Jennifer Sarah Blakeslee.

The pop-up bake-sale-for-a-cause, For Goodness Bake, has dedicated this year's proceeds to the Tuition Assistance Fund for Beacon's After School Program. The 2016-17 school year marked the first that children and parents of the Beacon City School District had direct access to an after-school program within the schools themselves. That's right. No busing required to get kids into an enriching childcare program, from 3 to 6 pm at their very own schools. Until last fall, of the four elementary schools in Beacon, only one had an in-school after-school program: Glenham Elementary, and it was a joint program with Fishkill.

Thanks to the efforts of the Beacon Parks and Recreation Department, a five-day program was designed to offer themed content for kids, until 6pm. It's a little unbelievable at first, so pay attention to how it works: Planned in quarterly sessions, each day presents a different theme, which might include baking, yoga, bird-watching (yes, really!), theater, filmmaking, martial arts, and more. Speaking from experience, the program has been incredible. Kids learn to use cooking utensils (and may take over salsa-making in your home), and have interviewed city leaders including the Chief of Police during their filmmaking class.

The Tuition Assistance Fund offers 50 percent off of After School Program tuition to families who qualify for the Free Lunch Program in the Beacon City School District. Roughly 51 percent of Beacon families participate in the program, yet of the 175 children enrolled in After School at three Beacon elementary schools (Glenham is not included because it's in Fishkill's budget), only 21 kids used the Tuition Assistance Fund last year. But just over 80 kids would be eligible, according to the Free Lunch Program statistics. Word spread about After School's first year, but not everyone knows about the tuition assistance, which helps working families afford childcare. However, children in families who have stay-at-home parents certainly still benefit from the After School Program's activities.

Who Pays for Tuition Assistance

Right now, according to the Parks and Recreation Department's Assistant Director Nate Smith, the City of Beacon pays for the tuition assistance, and takes it as a loss. The After School Program was designed to fund itself. Tuition for one child to register for five days during one quarterly session is $600. Families eligible for tuition assistance pay $300, which is matched right now by the City of Beacon.

Hence the fundraising effort through For Goodness Bake, which has been known to raise $4,000 or more per sale. Past bake sales have been dedicated to organizations such as the Kids R Kids Feeding Program, Green Teen Beacon, the Beacon Community Kitchen, and the Children's Organ Transplant Association.

 On sale at the bake sale for $5 each are works of art produced by kids in Camp @ the Camp, a summer program created by the Parks and Recreation Department.  Photo Credit: For Goodness Bake

On sale at the bake sale for $5 each are works of art produced by kids in Camp @ the Camp, a summer program created by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Photo Credit: For Goodness Bake

Back to the Bake Sale

But really, let's get down to business and discuss what's available at the bake sale. Contributions from talented amateur and professional cooks alike include a wide array of sweet and savory baked treats, confections, and vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free options. Also available is locally roasted coffee from Tas Kafé and hand-crafted sodas from Drink More Good.

The team at For Goodness Bake, Kristen Pratt and Tara Tornello, thanks the following people (and more not mentioned here): "ENORMOUS gratitude goes to these fine folks and establishments: Drink More Good for donating drink syrups, seltzer, and ice; Tas Kafé LLC, Adams Fairacre Farms, Inc. for sponsorship; Viridescent Floral Design for flowers; The Roundhouse for table linens; Beacon Bread Company for to-go containers; The UPS Store 4839 for printing; Catalyst Gallery for the lovely space; City of Beacon Recreation for tables and overall support; the kids of Camp @ the Camp for creating artwork to display; Kit Burke-Smith for hanging the artwork; Diana Vidal for photography; Patti McAlpine for her collection of cake stands and platters; our wonderful volunteers Christopher Dawson, John Fanning, Mary Jean, Ivette Mateiescu, Jessica Nash, Tara D'Andrea, and Maureen Neary and her sweet daughter (and baker extraordinaire) Tallix."

Registering for the Tuition Assistance Fund

To register for tuition assistance, contact Nate Smith at (845) 765-2470 or nsmith@cityofbeacon.org. Registrants fill out one form, keeping the process relatively simple.

 My bounty, delivered by a friend from Cold Spring who was dropping off a baby gift after she finished Pilates class at Beacon Pilates. Sweetness all around.

My bounty, delivered by a friend from Cold Spring who was dropping off a baby gift after she finished Pilates class at Beacon Pilates. Sweetness all around.