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Thoughts on Graydon Pool's Future

Could a lease and sponsorship deal help improve Graydon's viability?

My memories of Graydon Pool are happy ones, anchored in the 1960s and 70s, of learning how to swim, water fights, 10 cent Good Humor Ice Cream, and of a group of stay-at-home moms who would collectively watch us from morning until mid-afternoon.

I have always believed that the Village has done a fine job acting as steward of the land which was willed to the Village and we know as Graydon Pool. Though times change and so has my opinion of the job the Village is currently doing.

The metrics I use to judge the Village are now quite different then the ones I used as a youth. As a child it was simple to say that if the pool was open, the lifeguards led by Richard Flectner were keeping order, and the Good Humor truck showed up that all was well. You would expect such judgments from a youth.

Today I offer three standard measures to assess the performance of the Village, and I offer them to everyone when judging the success or failure of Graydon Pool under its current administrative leaders.

 1. Does Graydon make any money for the Village? No, according to reports it costs the Village $100,000 a year to maintain 365 Days a year.

2. Is the Graydon Pool membership on the rise or in a decline? All reports say it is in a decline and that members can now sponsor members from other towns in order to try and make up the difference.

3. Can Graydon be used for any functions during the other seasons of the year? In the spring and fall the muck and mire prevents any use of the pool grounds. In the winter at one time we ice skated on the pool, but I'm not sure if that's allowed anymore.

Now that you can see I am coming down hard on our current leaders you might ask what suggestion do I have to make in order to improve the situation.

My thinking goes like this: I know of no law that says the Village must be the one to provide the money for operational support of Graydon Pool. The Village does it and with mixed results. If you follow this reasoning then why not consider offering to lease the Pool to a private professional organization on a renewable 10-year lease with strict covenants set forth by the Village.  

In return for the rights to run the pool the private operator would pay a mutually agreed to rent and would be asked to sponsor at least one town initiative like fund raising for the Library, or planting flowers in Van Neste Square Park, or supplying a boys and girls baseball team with equipment and uniforms. These are all details which would be negotiated with the winner of a transparent bidding process.

As we all know private companies advertise and under a plan like this we would see a corporate logo on things like pool signage and badges. The private operator likely would consider a refreshment stand with logos on their napkins and cups. They might even open a merchandise stand to sell t-shirts, towels, and other pool related items. Other ideas they might try could include giveaways of merchandise with sponsors names plastered on things like sand shovels and buckets.

Now the touchstone by which the advertising would be judged could be carefully spelled out in advance. My preference would be to keep it as low key as the names on all the baseball uniforms worn by boys and girls in the Ridgewood Baseball Softball Association (RBSA). Or maybe something along the lines of the Coca-Cola logo on the High School Football ccoreboard. Anything more garish than these suggestions would be crossing the line in my opinion.

There will no doubt be a legal challenge to any proposal which tries to change the intent of the original will that Graydon be a park. Though I don't believe that relieving the town of its self-imposed obligation to provide operational support would compromise the park in any way. What's more its goal would be to create a financially sound operation. Graydon Pool would remain the same beautifully designed, tranquil setting that it has always been. As well as remaining a huge storage area for flood waters. The big difference would be that professionals would be running the show.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dominick Nizza May 16, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Thank you Paul, for your Nostalgic memory. The condition(s) of the pool, in its present condition and design will never recover the lost 4,500 memberships. There was a serious evaluation and study done 3-4 years ago of hundreds. Past and Present Councils have been reluctant to go the next sstep... to make a "Request for a Proposal" RFP where professional architects and designers could submit various alternate plans and financial alternatives based on the information collected that could satisfy everyone's interest and desires. It could be planned as Part A, Part B, Part C. Many of the "promotional ideas" you have are great however, there isn't any independant group or individual that would attempt to lease the pool with all it's faults. The Village is responsible and should ask for RFP. Without that we are "stuck in the muck and mire" forever
Local Resident May 16, 2011 at 09:29 PM
While the grumps stay home criticizing and pontificating, those of us who still live in town will be having a ball at opening weekend, June 4-5, free to Ridgewoodites with proof of residency. Expats who want the name sold to become Pepsi Park may feel free to swim in whatever facilities their own new towns may offer.
T. Powers May 17, 2011 at 03:57 AM
I don't think I understand the second half of the above comment. I was in favor of a renovated park as proposed by the Ridgewood Pool Project. I am the mother of young children and have many, many friends who simply will not bring their kids there for a variety of reasons. My 5 children ages 20 to 2 years old have all gone to the Graydon summer camp and loved Graydon. They do complain about the goose and duck situation. That is not to say I wouldn't have enjoyed a renovated facility more and I would have been happy to pay more to join. While the pool may be nice to look at, functionally it is very difficult to manage a group of young children there. There were years where I simply couldn't join because I felt I couldn't keep track of several young children as safely as I would have felt in a clear pool. It seems very nostalgic until you can't find your child and now there is a human chain formed to locate them under the water. I was also present when they were searching for and trying to resuscitate that young boy that drowned a few years ago - horrifying. So many people in Ridgewood have their own pools and many are away at 2nd homes for the summer, I don't think that without a major renovation it will be viable. Perhaps renovation with a private corporation as the funding body is a solution? I didn't think of that possibility. More food for thought.
Dominick Nizza May 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM
CLICK THIS LINK PLEASE, for a reminder from August 28, 2009. http://www.northjersey.com/recreation/town_parks/State_suggests_bona_fide_pool.html?c=y&page=2 Good Luck!
Ellen Simpson May 18, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Creative thinking and out-of-the box ideas should be welcomed and considered rather than quickly dismissed and criticized. Obviously, there is a problem with this pool. Also, I think if there is to be productive and respectful discourse on any subject, people should use their real names rather than anonymous names or symbols. Again, obvious.
Dominick Nizza May 19, 2011 at 11:19 AM
@Ellen Simpson, you are so right! Real contributors of useful knowledge to improve Graydon just get bashed by those that just hide their real identity. Shame on them.
T. Powers May 19, 2011 at 03:24 PM
If improvements in Graydon would make it so that I saw more of my and my kids friends there, made it cleaner and safer, and would alleviate the financial drain on the Village (as I understand it is), I wouln't care what you named it. A rose by any other name..as they say.
Melvin Freedenberg May 21, 2011 at 11:00 PM
I don't know what planet most of you live on or where you purchased your rose colored glasses but the fact is that if you can't attract the youth of this town to go to the pool, you haven't talked to the youth to find out why they won't go? Parents have never controlled what the youth of this village do with their free time and never will. That is why Ridgewood has so many liquor stores. Don't assume I meant that is for the kids. Heck, don't they have free access to your liquor cabinet? Thirty five years ago, the pool was packed with youth, seniors, and families. Now, seniors have gotten out of Dodge because between property taxes and the audacity to hit seniors with a fee, Ridgewood might as well fill in the pool with cement and we won't miss it. The youth group is too busy texting and chit chatting on social media groups on the Internet. Go to Gradon pool? Heaven forbid. That might interfere with logging in to Facebook and organizing a beer party in somebody's house when the parents are gone. My point is that times have changed and going to Graydon is no longer the thing to do. Most of the Ridgewood residents think the pool is poisoned and their interests have changed. A day at the pool is no longer and will never be on their agenda, no matter what the village does.
Dominick Nizza May 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM
I'm available again to explain why Graydon Pool will never recover those lost 4,500 members and it will continue to be a financial loss in its present design and condition.
Lucy Rieger May 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM
I can't wait for Gaydon to open! I have my badges and am ready to sit under a tree, read my book, take my dips and enjoy the paradise of Graydon. For 101 years Graydon has offered the same simple summer pleasures- water, sand, beauty and fun. If your kids grew up at Graydon as mine did, then you know all you need is a pail and shovel to make them happy. I treasure the memories of early childhood with my children at Graydon, but also treasure the pleasure of enjoying it without the constant vigilance needed with minding children at a pool. I also am pleased that Graydon offers scarce summers jobs to so many young people who grew up swimmming here. Yes, I'll be reading my book ( in print) relaxing, watching all the kids play, chatting with friends, swimming and loving every moment of being at priceless, historic Graydon Pool, knowing I am following a time-honored tradition of 101 remarkable years. See you there! Lucy
Danny May 22, 2011 at 10:41 PM
dom. revamping the pool will not recover the 4,500 memberships. this isnt the 60s anymore. families do different things now. either they will join, or they wont. a small minority are holding out due to the conditions. ive never gone there, but i can tell you right now, spending a ton of money to "fix" it is not going to draw me, nor will it draw 4,500 other people. if you want to lease it to a private entity and leave it in their hands, fine. but dont use my tax dollars for it. i have zero problem subsidizing the 100k a year loss on it vs spending millions to "fix" it and still be in the hole.
JAFO May 24, 2011 at 01:51 PM
We joined the Paramus pool last year and every time we attended, there were at least a dozen Ridgewood families present that I personally knew, or recognized. I imagine there were several other Ridgewood families that I didn't recognize. Don't get me wrong, I like Graydon a lot, but it took joining Paramus for me to realize just how much more relaxed I felt with a clear bottom pool. On the few occasions I was at Graydon, I felt very tense and uneasy not being able to see the bottom of the lake.
Fan of Ridgewood June 14, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Im not staying home. Me and my family have moved from Graydon to the Paramus Pool. People with young children continue to do this and that's where these kids will build their memories. I fought to renovate Graydon, but the "grumps" wanted to hold on to a memory. I dont care anymore. Paramus pool is great and more and more other Ridgewood residents think so too.
jimmy k June 15, 2011 at 01:21 AM
great thoughts Mr Paul McCubbin. i always thought that government cant run a business the way private sector can.. why doesn't the town auction the site to a private corp. and see how successful it can be come. why not try it?....if i was the owner i would make many changes. more life guards so the whole pool is usable, get rid of the deep end and maybe make it 5 ft the deepest(there has to be a solution to the water condition becoming better). run a restaurant with real food... i know some of u might not agree but how about a liqueur license ...where waitresses bring drinks to the adults...like a resort. why not?... how about dance nights for the kids with video screens and laser shows... like most of u have said...times have changed but the pool hasn't. if it was my business i think i would make the changes needed to make it successful ....the village sure hasn't....and whats 100k in the red.. its only our MONEY
Dominick Nizza June 17, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Jimmy k, your thoughts are appreciated but, probably a little too much to expect for this facility. First things first, an RFP must be done Now! The current political process in the Village continues to do great harm. Who's fault is it is not the question but, who will provide the leadership to resolve the problem in a professional manner?
Ken F. June 17, 2011 at 02:07 PM
I think that's a great idea Dom. Having it out so deep keeps the smaller kids from having fun with it. I still think it's never going to pull in the members the town thinks it will. What a waste of funds IMO.
Kathy Skrzypczak August 02, 2011 at 11:23 AM
I think Graydon is a beautiful site. I took my children there for years until we put in our own pool for convenience. They always had fun digging in the sand and jumping off the platforms. However, there always was a cleanliness issue for us. The ducks would leave feces all over the place and there was often litter in the water. The bathrooms were dark and usually in terrible condition, and don't even get me started on the ill-run snack bar. My friends and I used to have spirited conversations on how to improve our pool, but those simple things were never addressed, even when we brought them up to the manager. One of my last experiences there was getting yelled at by some high school kid in the life guard chair. The infraction? My friend's older children were chasing an aggressive duck away from my toddler's food. There you have it. When a swim facility puts the well-being of ducks over the comfort and safety of it's patrons, you could see how it would only be a matter of time before it's demise. I never thought of privatizing Graydon, but maybe that's what it needs. Look at Indian Trail Club. They are extremely successful and they have a beautiful lake that is well-used.
Dominick Nizza March 08, 2012 at 09:38 PM
See video on the New beach wheel chair- Click here please. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78IRVN8Jhts No need to understand French
Dominick Nizza March 09, 2012 at 08:40 AM
The above New Beach wheel chair video is a good example of improvement. The 2012 budget will require great cuts in Graydon administration with the annual loss of $118,000 there again and the $10,000,000 drowning victim jury verdict will remind everyone the same risks are still there. It will take some creative action by the new Council members. The status quo will not be tolerated any longer.
Dominick Nizza March 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Council will take a scond look at this one.

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