Thursday, October 27, 2005

Council Set For Pool Vote In Special Meeting

A crucial City Council decision for repairs to city pools is up for a vote tonight (Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005).

The council will meet for budget deliberations at 7 p.m. and will hold the special meeting at 8 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

Council members refused to vote on the matter of a $1.2 million contract for pool repairs on Oct. 17 because city administrators could not explain exactly how much of $750,000 in Green Acres funding for the project was a grant and how much was a loan. Objectors on the governing body said they recalled the whole amount being described as a grant.

The city has municipal pools at three locations, Rushmore Playground and Hannah Atkins Field in the West End and Seidler Field in the East End.

According to the 1982 "This is Plainfield" guide published by the League of Women Voters, at each site the city has 75-foot by 40-foot pools with depths of three to more than 10 feet, as well as smaller pools 42-foot by 36-foot with depths of 2.5 to 5-feet.

Recreation Director Dave Wynn said the Rushmore main pool has been closed for three years and the kiddie pool has been closed for at least 15 years.

Wynn said Seidler Field pools were in almost as bad shape.

Hannah Atkins Field had the best pool, he said, with repairs made and showers installed.

The pool season normally runs from the closing of school in June to Labor Day, Wynn said, but the need for college-bound lifeguards to leave in late August often means early closing for some pools, he said.

The pool operation requires one lifeguard per 50 patrons, Wynn said, with each lifeguard visually checking a section of a pool. At least five lifeguards must be on duty at any given time at each site during pool season, he said .

All lifeguards must be trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation as well as lifeguard skills, Wynn said.

Besides the municipal pools, swimmers can use pools at the YMCA, YWCA, Plainfield High School and at the Black United Fund building at Seventh Street and Central Avenue., he said , but most charge for use of the pools.

Wynn estimated the use of the Hannah Atkins pool at 1,875 weekly, including children enrolled in city summer camps.

Although the most immediate problem is repairs to the pools, Wynn said he hopes to establish ways to make the pools self-sustaining through fees and grants.

Because Rushmore was closed this summer, children from that neighborhood were bused at city expense to the two other pools.

Regarding the Green Acres question, Wynn said he believed the loan aspect of the funding was only two percent.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, City Engineer Carl Turner said if the vote was put off until the Nov. 14 meeting, the pools would probably not be open in 2006, which triggered the special meeting tonight.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: budget, pools