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.