Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 15
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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New Pool to Build on Strengths of Past While Incorporating Sustainable Features

Ellen Gilbert

“I think you’re going to be extraordinarily excited,” said Princeton Recreation Department board member Mike Finkelstein as area residents gathered last week to see and hear descriptions of proposed renovations to the Community Park Pool Complex. “It’s an absolutely brilliant solution to questions we had regarding maintaining the total integrity of the pool that we love, while being ecologically forward-looking.”

“Site amenities” detailed by representatives of Brandstetter Carroll, the firm retained to bring the concept plan forward after two years of collecting data, include a new pool house with a vegetated roof and other sustainable features; expanded concessions with shaded seating; an upgraded diving pool, with diving boards now on the right side to ease congestion; and an upgrading of the 43-year old lap pool with new walls and floor.

A few audience members appeared to find a proposed zero depth entry family pool connected to the existing lap pool the most difficult change to absorb. Designed to “take the pressure off the main pool,” the new structure is intended as a place for children who are too old for the wading pool, and as an assist to swimmers who may find a sharply declining entrance difficult to navigate.

Other features include a new contained zero depth, fish-shaped wading pool connected to the existing playground; new filtration for all the pools; new shade structures and trellises, expanded parking; and permeable paving. A changing facility near the wading pool will mean fewer trips to the locker rooms for families with toddlers, although family changing rooms will be featured in the new locker rooms. A community room will provide space for swim team and other group meetings.

Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts noted that the design incorporated feedback obtained at three previous public meetings. He said that he looked forward to the development of plans and specifications by July 1, so that bids can be obtained while financial conditions are favorable.

The $6.1 million anticipated cost of the pool will be met through the work of a recently-created fund-raising foundation, municipal support, increased user fees, and individual contributions. Mr. Roberts noted that “naming” opportunities will be available.

President Peter O’Neil, a Princeton resident since 1972, described the goal of the Parks and Recreation Foundation as assisting “in the capital campaign over the next decade or so,” to help realize Recreation Department Master Plan projects. “We’re hoping to reduce the tax-payer burden for the pool and other projects,” he noted. “We are here to assist the municipalities.”

As he has in the recent past, Mr. Roberts emphasized that, appearances aside, the pool is badly in need of updating. “I’m very nervous,” he admitted, noting that the current pool site is in danger of not meeting safety compliance requirements. “Pools have a lifetime, and it’s time to move on. Then we can look forward to 50 years of enjoyment from new technology.”

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