Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 26
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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Township Begins Process for Funding New Community Pool

Ellen Gilbert

“The time of reckoning has come for our pool,” observed Township Administrator Jim Pascale at Township Committee’s Monday evening meeting. “The Recreation Department Board has studied the issue for many years, and both municipalities’ governments have been been very hands-on about ensuring that this project is needed.” 

With this introduction, Township Committee approved the introduction of a bond ordinance providing for the installation of a new community pool, appropriating $4,087,000 and authorizing the issuance of $3,882,650 in bonds or notes for financing the project. A public hearing on the ordinance will take place on Monday, July 19.

The numbers are not final, noted Mr. Pascale, adding that “the good news is that we hope to have in place between now and the public hearing a separate companion document wherein the Township, Borough, Recreation Board, and Recreation Fund will get together and reduce the $6.1 obligation by hopefully at least $1 million from the Fund (which is privately raising money), and an additional $1 million from user fee adjustments.” Thus, he said, the numbers would be “more along the lines of $4.l million or lower, divided between the Township (66 percent) and the Borough (33 percent).” Deputy Mayor Chad Goerner later said that he anticipated the Township contribution would be approximately $2.8 million.

“This is a very important step for the Township, and we expect the Borough to take its companion step shortly,” said Mayor Bernie Miller, who described the pool as “an important part of the fabric of the community.” It is anticipated that construction on the new facility will begin in 2011.

Councilwoman Sue Nemeth noted that the Recreation Fund will be reaching out to the public for gifts, and that there will be “large and small naming opportunities.”

“The pool is a gem,” said Ms. Nemeth. “It really is the centerpiece of our community during the summer months, with swimming and diving teams, and summer camps. It’s an incredible asset.” She encouraged people to watch for a Recreation Fund website and other portals in coming months.

“I think this is going to be great,” said Councilman Lance Liverman, who grew up in Princeton and reported that he has used the existing pool since its construction in 1967. “It’s been one of the safest environments in the community,” he noted.

Capital Improvements

Township Committee also approved a bond ordinance providing for “various capital improvements” for $1,265,400, and authorizing the issuance of $1,202,130 in bonds for financing part of the cost of these projects. Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo explained that the ordinance represented “our annual capital request,” noting that “each department and the joint agencies examined their needs for coming year. This year, more than any other year, there was a real effort to pare down to real necessities. This is probably one of the lowest multi-purpose ordinances that we’ve ever done.” The projects that are included in the ordinance, she added, “can’t be put off any longer.”

A cost-cutting amendment to the Township’s contract with the police union was also approved. In return for the promise that there will be no involuntary layoffs during 2010 and 2011, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) agreed to conditions that will save some $330,000 over the next two years, including paying 1.5 percent of a 2.5 percent salary increase towards insurance. Mr. Pascale noted that non-union Township employees appear to have understood the wage freeze imposed on them on this year, and that Public Works employees, who opted not to take a pay cut, would be subjected to a furlough program that “will net out 2010 salaries to the same as 2009.”

Committee response during a concluding work session on a proposed “food waste recycling pilot project” was generally positive. “I think it would be crazy to say no,” said Recycling Coordinator Janet Pellichero, who introduced the presentation. The project would allow for food waste to be included with recycling items and sent to a reprocessing facility, rather than to a Mercer County scale where it currently gets weighed at $124 per ton. Ms. Pellichero reported that home owners’ and residential associations she has approached were very enthusiastic about the project, which would reduce garbage collection frequency and “do something good for the environment.” The target start date for the pilot project, which will be among the first on the east coast, is September or October.

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