Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 37
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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Weather Forecast

Over 120 People Defy Rainy Weather to Hear About Plans for Pool Complex

Ellen Gilbert

The genuine affection area residents feel for the Community Park Pool, and their consequent reluctance to see changes made in the complex, were clearly in evidence at last Saturday’s Princeton Recreation Department’s special free-swim/pool-renovations discussion.

Over 120 people turned out for the event, which was held — despite intermittent rain — at the pool. Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts set the scene by describing existing problems with the 41-year-old pools (wading pool, lap pool, and diving pool) and surrounding buildings. A handout also detailed “the gradual deterioration of some of the pool’s infrastructure and operational systems.” Representatives from CMX, Atlantic Aquatic Engineering, and the Spiezle Group, firms engaged by the Recreation Department to help develop concept plans, also spoke and answered questions.

Residents were assured that the department and its consultants were beginning with a “complete blank slate,” and that community input would inform any concept plans. Retaining the 50-meter lap pool appeared to be a pre-eminent concern among attendees. Atlantic Aquatic Engineering representative John Brey reassured them by saying that they would “do nothing but renovate the pool,” although Mr. Roberts had earlier pointed out that the “sister” pool in Westfield, built a year after Princeton’s, has twice been replaced by new pools.

The addition of a “family pool” met with some resistance by parents who claimed that despite Mr. Brey’s suggestion to the contrary, their eight-year-olds were happy playing in the lap pool. Youngsters jumping up and down at renderings of playfully-designed pools on display may have thought otherwise: “I’m gonna come here every day,” exclaimed one excited child.

Mr. Roberts noted that strong interest in sustainability was the “sole reason” the department had picked the CMX group, which has a history of projects carried out with concern for the environment. He introduced CMX project team leader Joe Perello, as well as Spiezle group representative Larry Uher, who will oversee plans for structural changes.

“This is a park with a pool in it, and the kids are always happy here,” said audience member Therese Ledwith-Fay. “It’s an intergenerational experience,” she added, noting that her “kids have nice relationships with seniors” who use the pool. Mr. Perello promised to “build consensus and keep the characteristics, functionality, and Princeton charm” in any design for the pool complex. “It won’t be a theme park,” he added.

In an interview several days later, Mr. Roberts described the event as “a great success,” and acknowledged the attendees’ desire to “keep things very simple.”

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