In the swim Town seeks $500,000 to upgrade pool complex

Seeking to make needed improvements to the municipal pool, the Town Council introduced a $500,000 bond ordinance at its Nov. 25 meeting.

The council also passed a resolution authorizing $25,000 from the capital improvements portion of the town budget as a downpayment for pool work to pending the approval of the bond.

Town administrator Anthony Iacono said that while the town has finally paid off its old pool debt, no significant work has been done to the pools except Band-Aid items in over 30 years.

“We paid the debt off two years ago,” he said. “But we’re going to have to replace the kiddie pool.”

Iacono said two different engineers have looked at the kiddie pool and determined that there is leakage under it and breaks in the line leading out of it.

“Work would include adding an irrigation system to the grass area,” Iacono said. “Some of that – which is largely installing a sprinkler system – we can do in-house with the Department of Public Works.”

Upgrading the pool, Iacono said, might also help address another problem. Pool attendance, despite agreements with several other towns, has been declining steadily for years.

“While the debt has been paid, we do not have enough membership to make the pool self-supporting, and that’s a concern,” Iacono said. “We really need to do a study as to how we can bring up the membership.”

This could mean starting an open membership program, rather than the limited agreements with the other towns that Secaucus now has.

“We could have a cutoff,” he said.

The pool complex has a potential for 1,400 users. While some weekends, people might flock to the pool, overall attendance is down. The construction of a state-of-the-art kiddie pool might help, Iacono said.

The complex also will get a new slide from USA Slide, Inc., a manufacturer and provider of fiberglass decktop water slides. While the complex already has a diving pool, Iacono said the slide would help draw in people and increase the membership.

Iacono said he hoped to have the bonding ordinance in place by Jan. 1 and seek proposals for possible work to begin by spring.

Old pool

The pool complex was constructed in the 1970s on an old ballfield as part an effort to provide outdoor summertime recreation in conjunction with Schmidts Woods. The pool ran at a financial loss every year since 1987.

The pool has been used by the various swim teams from Secaucus schools, as well as private swimming lessons in the morning.

Membership until several years ago ran at two rates, one for residents of Secaucus and a higher rate for out-of-town applicants. During the last several years, the Town Council has granted discounts for other towns, particularly North Bergen.

At the Nov. 25 meeting, Councilman John Bueckner questioned the half million dollar cost, and asked to have the recreation director and engineer come into a future caucus session to explain the project.

“We will have an engineer here for the public hearing on the bond,” Iacono said, noting that the cost estimates are actually below the $500,000. Replacing the kiddie pool is estimated at $200,000 while the purchase and installation of the slide is expected to cost between $75,000 and $100,000. The bond is for money in case of future costs.

“This is not just a face lift,” Iacono said.

Councilman Mike Grecco said the biggest problem is the leaking pipe drain that feeds and returns water to the pool. He said one possible new feature could bring the water up through the center of the pool like a fountain.

Deputy Mayor John Reilly said that during emergency repairs to the pool last year, the town received some preliminary estimates on the larger work.

Iacono said the town invested between $3,000 and $50,000 in pool repairs over the last three years, but these merely kept the pool operational and did not get to the root problems.

“Those were Band Aid measures,” he said, noting that most of the project will go out to bid with some work in-house.

“We’re setting a target date for May 1 to start the work,” he said.

Other business

In other council business, the council approved an ordinance that increases municipal traffic ticket fines to match an increase imposed by the state. The state has imposed an increase of $4 per ticket in order to fund special projects.

The council also approved resolutions giving $25,000 professional services contracts to the town attorney, the town’s labor attorney and the town’s tax appeal attorney.

The mayor and council authorized Police Chief Dennis Corcoran and Police Captain Richard Scalzo to do a traffic study on the effectiveness of different kinds of speed bumps at deterring traffic. Mayor Dennis Elwell said the police needed to survey the community as well as get input from council members about problem areas.

Deputy Mayor John Reilly said he would also like to get information about areas where schoolchildren are crossing, such as at Fifth Street and Centre Avenue.

“We might need to put up a yield sign or something else to warn motorists to slow down,” he said.

Busy intersections could see stop signs, speed bumps or elevated road sections as tools to slowing down traffic, Elwell said.

“But I want the chief to look into what other communities have done, such as Weehawken and Nutley, and get the pros and cons of what they installed,” Elwell said, noting that during the League of Municipalities Convention, he had heard some problems. He said Weehawken has a noise problem along Hackensack Plank Road after speed bumps were installed.

Councilman John Bueckner said there was a list of streets and towns that have used speed bumps.

The police department’s report is due out at the beginning of next year.

Councilman Bob Kickey said the town received notice that it will get $47,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover 75 percent of snow removal costs from a Feb. 16, 2003 snowstorm. Mayor Elwell said the town has received as $400,000 Green Acres matching grant for its various open space projects.


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