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Vol. LXIV, No. 33
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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Borough Council Mulls Pool Funding as Foundation Seeks to Move Ahead

Dilshanie Perera

Members of the Princeton Parks and Recreation Fund explained the development of the fund, as well as its role in garnering money for the construction of the new Community Park Pool Complex, at last week’s Borough Council meeting.

Fund President Peter O’Neill said that a conversation with Recreation Director Jack Roberts last September led to brainstorming about “an entity to support the capital needs of the Recreation Department.” Thus, the Fund was born.

“There seems to be a consensus on the need to perform major reconstruction to the pool and replace major infrastructure,” Mr. O’Neill said. “The current facility cannot continue without a replacement.”

Emphasizing that they are an independent board, Mr. O’Neill noted that those working through the Fund “have no input into the design of the pool.”

With a goal of fundraising at least $1 million for the new pool complex, the Fund will likely approach local residents and private corporations and donors alike. Mr. O’Neill reported that they had already raised $100,000 through “internal fundraising and a major gift.”

Members of the Fund reasoned that they would not be able to begin their fundraising efforts in earnest until both governing bodies show their support for the pool project by agreeing to set aside the requisite funds.

“We are stymied by the perceived lack of commitment from the towns regarding the bond ordinance,” Mr. O’Neill remarked. “We’re asking for the opportunity to give you money. The time is right to go ahead with this project.”

With the pool renovations expected to total $6.1 million, the Borough, Township, Recreation Board, and Fund will share the cost.

“I am not at all sanguine about the likelihood of the funds being raised,” said Councilman David Goldfarb.

Mr. O’Neill responded that the memorandum of understanding stipulates that the Recreation Department will subsidize the difference in the event of a shortfall, but that no such shortfall is expected. “Community Park Pool is a hotspot in town,” he said. “We are going to get this $1 million.”

“Our number one priority is the pool. In the circumstance that someone wants to give us money that is not related to the pool, we’re not going to turn it down, but we’re not going to solicit for that. We’re soliciting for the pool and the pool only until we raise $1 million,” Mr. O’Neill answered in response to Council questions.

The Fund has a goal of achieving the requisite monies raised by December 31, 2010, though Mr. O’Neill told the Borough that “we are constrained” until the governing bodies approve setting aside the capital funds via their respective bond ordinances such that a commitment to the project is evident.

Councilman Roger Martindell said that he shared the concerns of Mr. Goldfarb, adding that “in the event that you’re not as successful as everyone expects, there will be a shortfall … and the taxpayer would have to underwrite the difference.”

The elected officials from the Borough requested that the Fund’s naming and legacy policy be flagged for further discussion between both municipal bodies and fund representatives.

Resident Jo Butler drew a comparison between the pool fundraising and the monies garnered for the Public Library, highlighting the contribution to the capital project as well as the creation of an endowment. “We have to try for more than a million dollars. It is possible to do more than one thing at a time.”

Discussions are ongoing.

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