Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 45
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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Township Approves Pool Appropriation

Ellen Gilbert

At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee unanimously approved a bond ordinance for the appropriation of $4,087,000 for the installation of a new community pool, and authorized the issuance of $3,882,650 bonds or notes to finance part of the cost.

In a second, unscheduled vote, the Committee also approved a directive stipulating that the Recreation Department Board meet with the ad hoc committee that recently created an alternative pool plan, and return in 60 days with a report on that discussion. At Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts’s request, it was agreed that there would be Committee representation at these meetings.

“We are putting into place a mechanism to fund future work on the pool,” said Mayor Bernie Miller. “We’re not specifying what the future work is, but we’re setting an upper limit on the amount that can be spent. The ordinance does not in any way commit the Township to spend this, or any amount of money, and does not in any way discuss the design or structures of the pool. That remains a work in progress.”

Although a copy of the alternative pool design was not circulated until Monday evening, representatives of the ad hoc group, including Ron Berlin, Walter Frank, Yina Moore, and Joel Schwartz suggested that it had been difficult to meet with Recreation Department representatives to discuss their plans.

“We have had a number of discussions with the ad hoc group and actually did a tour of the pool with some of them, but we have not received a proposal from them. It’s hard to respond until we do,” said Mr. Roberts.

Recreation Board subcommittee member Joanne Rogers echoed Mr. Roberts’s comments, noting that she and co-subcommittee member Mike Finkelstein had met with the ad hoc committee, but that the group “did not have plans and numbers at that time. Mike Finkelstein and I are always available, but they didn’t come with actual materials.”

“It’s the squeaky wheel getting heard,” said Recreation Board member Tom Zucosky with some impatience. “There’s a constituency at home doing homework — or helping someone do homework — that’s not represented here tonight,” he observed, although several parents had indeed expressed their support for the ordinance and the hope that there would be no further delays that might cut into their children’s pool time.

“We brought cost estimates down by 25 percent, and I think we can bring it down even more,” continued Mr. Zucosky. He cited the private foundation that has committed itself to raising funds, and noted that pursuing a new pool design would require an appropriation of more funds — where there aren’t any.

Changes in the Recreation Department’s most recent pool design include cost-saving alternatives using new technology for monitoring the pool from the manager’s office, and the option to get separate quotes on features like a proposed meeting room.

Mr. Roberts confirmed that the fund-raising foundation had recently received a $25,000 grant from the J. Seward Johnson Charitable trust, bringing the total they have now collected to more than ten percent of their goal. Committee member Sue Nemeth, however, expressed concern that the group was in danger of losing momentum if the ordinance wasn’t approved soon. “We’ll refine the design as we go along and still keep it looking like a park,” she said. “I really urge my colleagues to support this bond ordinance now.”

“We’re not designing the pool tonight,” reiterated Mayor Miller. “We’re just going to put a funding mechanism in place. As far as I’m concerned the range of possibilities for what happens to the pool is completely open, and neither municipality can do anything without the other. Between the two municipalities and interested citizen groups, we have to consider all the possibilities.” He counseled the Recreation Department and ad hoc committee to resist turning their efforts into a “we vs. them” design competition, and said that he hoped Borough Council would soon follow suit with their own approval of the bond ordinance.

Correction: Henry Singer is not a member of the ad hoc committee that created alternate pool plans. We apologize for the error.

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