A pool project cochair approached council last night, proposing it act on a drafted request for proposals application.
Referring to an RFP tabled by the pool committee until the new Village Council takes office, Ridgewood Pool Project cochair and current pool committee member Jane Morales asked the current council to reconsider.
"Let's be proactive and learn what's out there," Morales said, emphasizing it costs no money for an RFP. Graydon Pool, a natural-bottomed pool, has been a controversial village facility recently, as conservationists fear updates would concrete the pool.
Outgoing Councilman Patrick Mancuso said after the meeting it's unfair to seek plans if the village can't follow through on them.
"There's no money for this right now. Why would a business waste its time on a plan when we can't act on it?" he asked. "We have got to think positively on this and make sure the negativity doesn't rule us."
After Bernadette Walsh and Thomas Riche—candidates opposed to the RFP and endorsed by the Preserve Graydon Coalition—were comfortably elected in May, Mancuso told committee members he'd leave the RFP in the new council's hands.
According to Morales, Mancuso said, "The new council might feel as though something is being shoved down their throats," a claim the outgoing councilman did not refute.
The council members-elect attended last night's meeting. Riche, who Walsh subsequently concurred with, said, "We will have many important issues on the agenda that we will have to prioritize," adding that it would be "presumptuous" for them to tell the current council how to operate.
By issuing an RFP, Morales said, it gives the new council ideas to draw from—not handcuffing it.
"They have nothing to lose," she said, adding members could accept or reject any plans they wanted. "At least we'll be in a better position than we are in now."
In her prepared remarks, Morales outlined four concerns for Graydon going forward:
- Committee members Mancuso and Mayor David Pfund are leaving office, and therefore, the committee.
- When new council members take office, getting two new committee members "up to speed" will waste more time.
- Village Manager Dr. Kenneth Gabbert, who has already "made some really tough [budget] decisions" may "analyze the Graydon numbers and [say] 'We can't continue to operate the pool—it is losing too much money.'
- The "antiquated" facility causes the recreation staff new challenges annually as conditions change.
Morales credited the committee for its positive returns but said several negatives continue to plague the pool. According to Morales, the chemical AQ-C28, which improved water clarity last year, also increased algae growth and required lifeguards to spend time removing the plant life.
Additionally, she cited pump deficiencies that have forced the Department of Parks and Recreation to borrow other village pumps to get the pool operational for its June 4 opening.
However, Mancuso credited the many gains the committee has made recently, including better equipment, water clarity, sand and publicity techniques.
Graydon Park itself recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary and was named to the "10 Most Endangered Historic Sites" list by nonprofit Preservation New Jersey. Also, The Record called for the plake's preservation in a May 21 editorial.
After the committee was established last fall to combat Graydon's monetary and water quality deficiencies—whether actual or perceived—it devised water quality and public relations strategies. In addition, it worded an RFP devoid of the term "concrete."
Initially, Morales said, the committee was ready to recommend the RFP in April but decided to wait the council election to proceed. She said the current council, which was involved in the process since the RPP's inception, should finish what it started.
The new council takes office July 1.