Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 31
 
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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Borough Council Tables Pool Plan

Dilshanie Perera

By setting aside $2,053,500 to finance part of the cost of the project, Borough Council at its meeting last week tabled the ordinance that would allow for the construction of the new Community Park Pool. The discussion will continue in a joint meeting between the governing bodies of the Borough and the Township on August 16.

Concerns expressed by Council members centered on the financing agreement between the Borough, Township, the Recreation Department, and the Recreation Foundation.

Council President Andrew Koontz said that the action taken by Township Committee regarding the pool complex was “very confusing” because it “committed to an agreement but tabled the bond ordinance.”

“I’m leery of proceeding with this tonight. I want to see them send us a clear message,” Mr. Koontz added.

Recreation Executive Director Jack Roberts explained that it would be a challenge for the Princeton Parks and Recreation Foundation operators to “go out into the public to raise money without a commitment from the governing bodies.”

The pool complex is expected to cost $6.1 million, with the Borough and Township financing a large proportion of the cost. Additionally, the Foundation has pledged to raise at least $1 million, with any monies raised between $1 million and $2 million to go toward offsetting recreation fees, thereby ensuring greater access to more patrons of the pool and recreation programs by keeping costs low.

Mr. Roberts characterized the pool as occupying a “large part of the social fabric of this community,” observing that the current designs “tried to make this pool a figure of all visions” proposed at community meetings. Designs are 90 percent complete, he said.

Council member Roger Martindell noted that he was not ready to adopt the ordinance at the meeting, and requested additional data before making a decision, including information on the effects on the Borough’s debt service.

Citizens from both the Borough and Township stepped forward to air their views about the pool complex designs.

Henry Singer said he supported the ordinance, particularly because “the pool is in dire need of attention” with respect to its condition. “The timing is important,” he cautioned, suggesting that capital and construction costs would increase if the project was not bid out soon.

“There is no question that the pool is in need of repair and the complex is in need of sprucing up,” Walter Frank agreed.

Audrey Chen underscored the importance of moving forward on the pool renovations, pointing out that “there is a lot of infrastructural stuff that has outlived its lifespan.” Her children belong to the Community Park Bluefish and have reported cut fingers and feet from pushing off of the bottom of the pool after dives.

Ronald Berlin said that the public meetings had been “great, but the endgame failed on this.” The consensus expressed by those attending the meetings had been five-fold: to keep the current pool configuration, to maintain the pools-within-a-park feeling, to shy away from amusement parks, to only fix what is necessary, and to keep the buildings rustic, he noted, adding that the current proposed designs show that the “building designers really missed the point.”

The buildings on the pool complex are what Mr. Berlin felt were not in keeping with the public consensus. He exhorted the Recreation Department to “keep the changing facilities open, thoroughly renovate them, but maintain the outdoor experience.”

“This is a place that celebrates what is special about summer,” Mr. Berlin said.

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