By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — Families have been making memories at the Mosher Park Pool for more than five decades.
And even before that, what is now the pool complex was once a “beach” complete with a huge pond and sand.
The village last Sunday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Mosher Park Pool, which was constructed in the early 1970s. The party kicked off at 1 p.m., and by 2 p.m., already more than 200 people had visited the pool to take a dip.
“The Mosher Park Pool was dreamt of and constructed during my grandfather Frank Nunziato’s terms as trustee for the village,” Mayor Bill Misuraca said. “To see his vision succeed a half century later is inspiring! It’s been a challenge to keep up with maintenance and costs in these trying times, but the valuable service it provides to residents is well worth it.”
With the pool celebrating its 50th birthday, what better way to do that than with a birthday party, complete with a cake?
The community gathered at the pool Sunday for a special event celebrating the pool and what it has meant over the years. Everyone was invited, free of charge, regardless of whether they have a pool pass.
“The pool is the one thing in the village that so many people use all the time,” Village Trustee Linda Muller said. “It is for all ages, and families can get together here. I just love it.”
A plaque at the pool notes that it opened and was dedicated in 1972-73.
“That is when the whole complex was dedicated,” Deputy Mayor Nancy Warner said. “It actually opened in August of 1971, and they established a village park complex to be built, to include a pool.”
The park complex was designed to include a pool, bathhouse, play area — which just received delivery of new playground equipment — and a parking lot. The cost for the entire complex back in 1971, when the bid came in, was $176,200, including an $84,947 bid to build the pool itself from Paddock Pools, submitted on April 15, 1971.
The pool opened in the summer of 1971 and the whole complex was dedicated in October of 1972, Warner said.
Before the Mosher Park Pool was built, families made memories in another way — at a huge pond that was at the site where the parking lot currently sits, including a sandy beach where kids could play and make sandcastles.
Darlene Mergendahl, the pool’s longtime director and now pool consultant, fondly recalls both the “beach” and the pool that opened when she was 7 years old.
“I remember playing in the sand,” Mergendahl said. “When this pool opened, I remember taking swimming lessons here and being on the swim team.”
As a kid, there was always a long line of people waiting for the pool to open its doors, she said.
“I remember as a kid that at 1 o’clock, when the whistle would blow at the firehouse, that was when the door went up and people went in,” Mergendahl said. “There would be a line waiting to get in. I have been coming here my whole life.”
Misuraca thanked Mergendahl and others for keeping the pool going all these years.
“Special thanks to Darlene Mergendahl for being our director for many of those years, and for passing her knowledge on to our new director, Jasmine Powell. And thank you to our pool czar, Henry Traver, for being available to help out day and night.”
The pool has always been “free” for village residents — paid for through their taxes — and Coeymans town residents have at times been awarded “free” passes and at other times have had to pay for them, depending on decisions by the town council.
The cost to Coeymans residents and others living in Coeymans, Hannacroix, New Baltimore, Coxsackie and Feura Bush this year pay $50 for a single pool membership, $10 for a couple or two people, and $125 for a family.
But for Sunday’s anniversary party, admission to the pool was free for all. The birthday cake was donated by Shop ‘n’ Save, which also donated bottled water, event organizer and Village Trustee Caitlin Appleby said. The Ravena Fire Department had one of their trucks parked outside the pool with a giant American flag hanging down, and local groups and businesses had displays set up, including Pop Warner, which was signing up kids for the coming football season.
“Everyone has memories here,” Appleby said. “I think that by opening it up to everybody today, not just village residents, people can come down and see what a good community spirit we have. You can make friends down here — I actually met my husband here during adult swim lessons. It’s a good place to make memories.”
After 50 years, the pool is about to get some new equipment — a splash pad for kids to run through, thanks to a grant secured by Village Trustee Linda Muller.
“The splash pad is supposed to go in at the end of the season, in August or September,” Muller said. “We didn’t want to disrupt this season. It will be in place for next summer.”
Village Ambassador Rebecca Shook was happy to see the pool party well attended with families swimming, catching some sun, and tossing a football around.
“This really is a good example of why we should always come together as a community, no matter what time of the year it is,” Shook said. “Especially when it comes to this awesome pool party of the century!”