Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 13
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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Public Encouraged to Attend April 7 Meeting On Progress of Pool Renovation Plans

Ellen Gilbert

There will be a public “reconvening” to discuss the future of the Community Park Pool complex on Wednesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room at Township Hall.

“We get it; these are hard times,” said Princeton Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts, acknowledging recent budget cuts to local institutions like the school district and the library. “The process of moving toward pool renovations needs to continue, though.”

“The budget problems have has been going on for years — it’s not something new,” he added, echoing comments made by Finance Committee Chair Dorothy Bedford at last week’s School Board meeting. “It’s just that the current crisis brings it into sharper focus.”

“It’s really important for the public to see where we’re going with this,” said Mr. Roberts, who hopes for a good turnout at the meeting, which will include a presentation by Mike Carroll of BrandstetterCarroll, the firm retained to develop the department’s Master Plan. Architect Rick Parker will also be available to talk about how solar panels, a green roof, and other features will create a more sustainable environment.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity to introduce board members of a recently-created foundation, who “will begin the discussion about fund raising for the pool,” and describe “what our perceived obligations are to the governing bodies and what our expectations are for governing body support,” said Mr. Roberts.

“Saying that it’s unaffordable is not a constructive argument at this time,” he noted. “We really need to complete this work in a timely fashion.”

“This work” includes a re-envisioning of the 42 year-old complex, where existing pools, locker rooms, and grounds are badly in need of repairs.

“The Department has been vigilant in upgrading and replacing systems and infrastructure when possible,” according to a statement issued last year. A 2005 audit by Water Technologies of the structure and systems, however, “brought to the Department’s attention pool compliance issues that needed to be addressed in the near future.”

Public feedback during previous meetings indicated a strong interest in keeping the basic configuration of the pool, with its “park with a pool in it” aesthetics.

There was concern about retaining the 50-meter deck-level main pool; keeping the buildings “rustic and camp-like”; fixing only what needed to be fixed; and refraining from making the pool into an “entertainment center or amusement park.”

BrandstetterCarroll has “been working on simplifying the plan and reducing the building’s footprint while integrating green concepts into the scheme,” said Mr. Roberts. “The company has also been working on establishing construction sequences that will guarantee that the work can be accomplished without losing any of the pool season. It is hoped that by reducing the building footprint, additional savings can be realized.” Moving expeditiously, Mr. Roberts added, would enable the Department to “capture the lower bid cost returns that are prevalent during the current recession.”

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