In the early 1960s, a small group of forward-thinking Palisadians decided to start a local swim club. During the spring of 1964, while their teenage children were busy listening to the newly discovered Beatles, this dedicated group of parents was busy looking for a suitable site for the pool, meeting with the zoning board, securing a mortgage, and eventually, setting up the brand new Palisades Swim Club.

The PSC was established as a non-profit mem-corporation, under the laws of New York State. A board of directors was formed, and Nellie Knudson, who initiated the concept, served as the club’s first president. A beautiful four and a half acre wooded site was purchased on Route 9W, permits were acquired from various government agencies, and an engineering study was done. In May of 1965, the PSC was finally authorized to begin construction of the pool and tennis courts.

The club started with 150 member families - the first 78 charter members were from Palisades, and the other families came from neighboring communities. Each member purchased a $365 bond as a share of ownership, and paid an $80 maintenance fee for the season.Opening day occurredon July4, 1965.

A swim team was formed by Mrs. Knudson, and by 1972, the PSC swimmers were Rockland County champions! Palisades has continued to produce great swimmers over the years, and many of today’s swimmers are the children and grandchildren of original team members.

Overthe years, a few things have changed at the swim club. A small covered pavilion and snack bar were added in 1978. The club went through a major renovation in 1986. The tennis courts were resurfaced. The pool was sandblasted, and the concrete deck was replaced. New pipes were installed, and a new filter room was built. The chlorine system was upgraded from chlorine gas to a safer liquid chlo-rine system. The original swing set has now been replaced twice, and a contemporary playground was inaugurated last summer.

One thing hasn’t changed since 1965: the Palisades Swim Club remains the best place for families to spend an enjoyable and restful summer in a safe, beautiful and bucolic environment. From group swim lessons to the swim team, children are kept busy at the club. In addition, group or individual tennis lessons are offered by two tennis pro instructors. On a typical summer day, you will see parents playing with their young children as they splash and swim in the kiddie pool, or have fun on the new playset just a few feet away. You might see older children playing a game of stickball on the back lawn, or swimming in the main pool, or safely playing endless games of Marco Polo under the supervision of friendly swim guards.

Most of the guards and office employees are the children of the members. Younger children wait impatiently to turn fourteen so that they can be the ones working at the front desk, checking in the members or working at the snack bar - the most important job in the Club, according to them. What a dream for a 14-year-old to be in charge of a freezer full of delicious ice cream!

Membership has changed and fluctuated since the club’s founding. In the early 1980s, there was a waiting list for members to sell their bonds, but by 1987 there was a complete reversal, and there were 190 member families, with a waiting list to join the club. By the early 2000s, there were 240 member families, with a waiting list of about 100 families!

Unfortunately, in 2014 the reverse cycle began again. As children grew into teenagers and young adults, some families moved on with their lives and left the club. The re-opening of the pool at Tallman State Park also added serious competition to the PSC. At the Palisades Swim Club, the bond is $1000, and the annual maintenance fee is $890 although a seasonal family membership is now available without a bond purchase. Another very serious issue is the club’s real estate taxes. Although the revenues of the PSC have increased slowly, the taxes have gone up at a faster pace and now comprise more than 25 percent of the club’s budget. As a result, for the last few years, the Palisades Swim Club has been running a deficit, and by the end of 2019, the club was in financial distress.

Without some outside financial help, the survival of the PSC is now in question. The Town of Orangetown, contrary to many other municipalities, has never had a public swimming pool, and the board of directors is actively working on several possible scenarios to ensure that the families of Palisades will continue to enjoy their swim club in the years to come.

PS. In the last two weeks some very positive developments have taken place and the Palisades Swim Club will be open this season.