Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 41
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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New Pool Complex To Feature Improved Amenities, Structure

Dilshanie Perera

Recreation Director Jack Roberts presented a concept plan of the Community Park pool complex to Borough Council at last week’s municipal meeting.

When the pool “reached its 40th birthday” two years ago, the Recreation Department did a complete audit and found that the filtration equipment and other features had “pretty much run their lifespan,” Mr. Roberts said.

From there, the Recreation Department developed a plan by bringing in a consultant, getting public and staff input, considering new technology, and charting a tentative timeline.

“The public doesn’t want too much of the pool changed,” Mr. Roberts reported of his findings from three open meetings with the community. “They like that it’s a park that happens to have a pool in it.”

Elaborating on the amenities and features of the redesigned complex, Mr. Roberts explained that the new wading pool would have a “beach entry,” meaning that it would be gradually sloped and without a curb in order to accommodate even the youngest swimmers and their parents.

Providing additional shade structures is also part of the plan, as is setting up a separate filtration system for the wading pool.

Under the new system, “all the water would be run across ultraviolet light,” he said, noting that he wants to continue the trend of high safety standards at the pool.

The problem of addressing the needs of parents with children of different swimming abilities was solved by designing a “family bay” off of the main pool to “establish a transition area” that gradually increases from no depth to three feet. Such a move would also reduce congestion at the main pool, Mr. Roberts suggested. The diving well would also be maintained.

“We don’t really have a teen center in town, and this pool becomes a de facto teen center over the summer,” Mr. Roberts said. As “the largest employer of teens in town,” with 145 young people working part time, they want to give older children space and allow them to “feel like they have some ownership at the pool” as well, he added.

As for the new buildings at the pool complex, Mr. Roberts envisioned that the structures would extend down toward the curb line in order to maximize space, adding that green technologies would be researched and implemented to “maximize sustainability.” The buildings would house a manager’s office; family changing rooms; first aid; storage for swim teams and swim lessons; and smaller, but better organized, locker rooms.

Responding to questions from Council, Mr. Roberts said that the project’s cost is estimated at $6 million. He added that the cost was predicted as high as $7.5 million, but that they simplified and redesigned some initial components.

“It is difficult to come up with an iron-clad estimate,” Mr. Roberts explained, predicting that it would take $600,000 “to get to the next phase” in the design and planning process.

A Princeton parks and recreation foundation has been established in accordance with the Recreation Department’s Master Plan, with Mr. Roberts reporting that the goal is to raise a million dollars.

“Additionally, the board is looking at ways to increase fees,” he said, emphasizing that currently “our fees are lower than anyone’s.”

The pool project is expected to occur in phases over two years in a way that poses “the least inconvenience to the public.”

“I would hope that before you spend substantial monies bidding out for design, that you would share with us in writing the budget document,” Council member Roger Martindell said.

Borough Council member Kevin Wilkes estimated that a full set of construction documents should cost between six and eight percent of the final total for the project, as opposed to the ten percent proposed. “We want to stay in this conversation loop with you,” he said.

In a memo earlier this month to Mayor and Council, Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi advised that staff had looked at the initial plans for the pool (described as “an important and significant community project”) and they “believe that we can integrate such an expenditure into the capital budget and not have a significant impact on all of the other demands.”

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