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Preserve Graydon to Council: It's Not About the Wibit, It's About the Water

Leaders of the grassroots Graydon preservationist group spoke out on the council's decision to purchase an inflatable aquatic water playground.

Bringing members back to Graydon , Graydon grassroots group Preserve Graydon Committee (PGC) said at Wednesday night's village council work session. Rather, said former Chair of the Preserve Graydon Committee Suzanne Kelly, "It's the water, the water, the water."

"That is where Village money would be spent most effectively," Kelly stated to the council in a prepared statement.

Along with current Preserve Graydon co-chair Marcia Ringel, the two swiped at the council's decision to install a large raft in the northeast corner of Graydon at the recommendation of Parks & Recreation Director Tim Cronin.

"The venue is wrong," Ringel said. "We do not deny that the Wibit looks like fun. But there are countless reasons to think twice, and that is what we urge you to do before installing it."

She expressed concerns that there would be a lack of swimming areas with the six-piece 50-foot long Wibit occupying the pool, also noting that she believes lifeguards' time would be used ineffectively; there would be a perception of safety concerns; process was sudden and poorly communicated by the village; aesthetics were not in line with open space; and wondered if the council were so interested, maybe they could rent a Wibit short-term to see how it worked out?

The most vocal proponent of the plan, Deputy Mayor Tom Riche, said on April 6 that "we [the council] would be doing a terrible, terrible disservice if we don't get this."

The device, which would be anchored into the sand and require a lifeguard to supervise it full time, will cost the village around $12,000. During the presentation to the council two weeks ago, a representative of a local sports company said kids flock to the Wibit areas and he's seen membership increase by 30 percent in some places.

The council members seemed excited about the prospect of bringing new revenue to the pool, which has struggled to retain members and has been considered by many to be a 'sunk' cost though it saw a stark jump in the 2010 season, which featured lots of fun and sun.

Kelly questioned the numbers presented by the salesman two weeks ago, asking aloud if other factors could have contributed.

"But has it been proved that the Wibit, not other factors, such as nice weather or better advertising accounted for this increase?" she asked.

Ringel pointedly remarked that there had been a lack of notice to the public and it had not been mentioned at various committee meetings.

Kelly asked if the other location has a portion of its population jilted by the water quality of the facility.

"We strongly doubt that people who consider Graydon’s water not clear and clean enough, will change their minds just because a plastic playground was installed in the pool."

The former co-chair, who stepped down a few months ago due to time commitment issues, said the biggest issue is the village not having the proper amount of aerators at Graydon, cited in the recent past to be a budgetary issue.

The pool currently has two aerators–one under the T-Dock and the other in the four-foot raft line on the Linwood side–when the recommended number by the manufacturer was three in a triangular configuration.

Kelly said she had suggested that "a small cement raft" be built in the center of Graydon.

"A lifeguard chair could be anchored to the top of this concrete raft as well. PVC piping could be extended from the four-foot raft to Graydon’s center, easily relocating the aerator." The cost, per Kelly's remarks, were estimated to be $6,000 by Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser.

"This requires money. Since funding is limited, the money should be spent on continuing to improve the water quality, which will happen if all three aerators are installed at the recommended locations for maximum effectiveness."

Ringel said she polled other community members to hear their thoughts on the 'The Night of Wibit'. The responses?

"They variously called the plastic playground 'a monstrosity,' 'an enemy of open space,' 'a water park,' 'a nightmare,' 'weird,' and 'Las Vegas,'" Ringel said. "Even someone who prefers concrete pools said the Wibit looks like 'a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon drowning in the water.'"

Mayor Killion, reached Thursday morning, said the council "is concerned about the safety of residents" and "we're going to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of everyone using Graydon."

The measure did not require a resolution because it was under the minimum bid threshhold. The sand-bottom lake will open the weekend of June 4-5 and it was expected the Wibit would be ready by opening day.

The Fly April 21, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Well Mr. Riche? Any rebuttal? No comments in defense of the Wibit from you following the remarks of Ms. Ringel and Ms. Kelly during Wednesday evening's meeting; I was totally surprised. You certainly had a lot to say on April 6th; why the silence now? What a boondoggle this project is going to turn out to be.
AMAMOM April 21, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Safety and water quality have to be the #1 concern at Graydon. This plastic toy does not suit the natural, open, green, old fashioned feel of graydon. Bottom line, it's unecessary, doesn't bring us closer to increased safety or water quality and it's UGLY.
TAG April 21, 2011 at 02:25 PM
I have serious reservations about the safety of the proposed Wibit rafts. It appears to me an attractive nuisance to younger children less adept at swimming, an obstruction to the view of the lifeguards, and a potential trap for kids to get caught underneath. With pending litigation already against the Village, safety and water clarity should be the highest of priorities. That is what will attract people to Graydon.
ron April 21, 2011 at 04:22 PM
The council definetly is intune with what works and with what draws attendance. This form of waterfront recreation is safely drawing participants of all ages to summer camps, ymca's, and waterfronts all over the USA and the world. (just get on you computer and google it) It is proven to safely drive attendance and proven that kids love it. It will bring new life to the Graydon providing smiles, giggles, and sqeals of fun from active kids. After all, we do want kids enjoyingGraydon, right.
Lisa Ertle April 21, 2011 at 06:30 PM
As we have seen in the past, it is difficult enough to keep track of little ones in a very busy, aquatic environment WITHOUT a giant inflatable something...even with very good lifeguards on duty. Offering some free water safety or swim lessons to members (reducing risk) and improving water quality seems to me to be a good use of money.
Lisa Ertle April 21, 2011 at 06:38 PM
I do know that my daughter would be VERY happy to have such a thing at Graydon. My main concern is safety on very busy days.
Local Resident April 21, 2011 at 06:44 PM
One wonders if "ron" could be Ron Romens, president of the Wibit consulting company crs4rec. http://crs4rec.com/index.php/about-crs/crs-staff-directory/
Now Graydon is opened to non-Ridgewood residents. This should be interesting. I don't think people are actually going to sign up because of the Wibit. I think it's a preference for backyard pools and second homes that has affected Graydon's popularity, plus possibly changing demographics.
Enid June 07, 2011 at 11:30 AM
I agree that the device looks like a drowning Thanksgiving Parade balloon and is completely out of place at Graydon. Then there are significant safety issues, for sure. There must be better uses of $12K at Graydon.
Siobhan Winograd June 09, 2011 at 05:01 PM
The Wibit is a disgrace on so many levels. How could the Village Council spend 12K on a device that less than 10% of the community will use. The goal for Graydon should be to return to a community pool that is for Ridgewood Residents only. Seriously how irresponsible can they be to spend Ridgewood Money on a place that does not benefit a majority of Ridgewood.
Ken F. June 09, 2011 at 10:21 PM
I pass by Graydon twice every day. I have always liked the appearance of the pool and if I didn't live in Glen Rock (which has a nice pool) I would consider joining except for the water quality issue. Knowing that Graydon is occupied at times by geese and ducks who do whatever in there makes me cringe. Graydon is a shallow pool and if you can't see to the bottom then water quality is a top priority. Fix your water issues and people will come back. If I were a kid I might like the inflatable toy but as an adult I would have my concerns about safety as others have commented about. The THING could have been rented for a summer to see if it makes a difference. I think your money could have been better spent. And to Siobhan... what do you see as the problem with non Ridgewood residents at the pool? Do they look or act differently? Is the money they pay to join not as green? Please elaborate.
Siobhan Winograd June 11, 2011 at 11:27 AM
I am a big believer in strong public works for the community. Ridgewood has 25K residents yet we have very few community venues to gather. I was born and raised in Ridgewood and grew up going to Graydon..everyone went to Graydon. I loved moving from each school (grade to middle and middle to HS) and meeting up with people I had met through Graydon. I believe by having less than 10% of the Ridgewood community we are dividing our community by sending them elsewhere. Many towns do not allow outside residents in or if they do they charge a premium (I know Glen Rock does not allow anyone and Paramus charges almost double to outside residents). This year the Village Council opened the pool up to all other towns which I feel fractures our community. It is also important to note that for the past ten years Graydon has LOST money, an expense that Ridgewood residents incur. I feel strongly the Village Council has a responsibility to have the pool sustain itself and benefit the people paying it. Hope this helps.
Ken F. June 11, 2011 at 02:00 PM
I don't understand what you mean by "I believe by having less than 10% of the Ridgewood community we are dividing our community by sending them elsewhere." If you mean less than 10% want to use the pool then so be it but how is that dividing the community and driving them elsewhere? How does opening up the pool to people from outside of town fracture the community? If Graydon has lost money for the past 10 years now then the village should have done some sort of survey by now to figure out why people aren't joining up as much as they used to. finally you say "I feel strongly the Village Council has a responsibility to have the pool sustain itself and benefit the people paying it." It sounds like the council IS doing something to to help the pool sustain itself BY allowing outside residents to join. I guess time will tell if enough outsiders join to offset the lack of residents joining. It would be hard for me to believe the downturn in the economy is the problem with membership in such a wealthy town. I wonder how many pool permits have been approved over those 10 years.
Siobhan Winograd June 11, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Without getting too political here are some facts. *For the past ten years membership has declined at Graydon. *The Village Council along with Parks and Recs created a team to research and the end result was the recommendation that Graydon be changed to a concrete pool. *Opinions clashed and the Village council opted to keep Graydon the same. *I am sure private pools have contributed to the decline but when I was growing up even people with private pools belonged to Graydon..it was the summertime epicenter of our community. *Many residents have joined other pool clubs bc they no longer enjoy Graydon. *There have been countless public meetings on this subject and the town is divided. I personally feel that the Village Council needs to address it. I personally would like to see it changed however in the short term they have a responsibility to make sure we do not wash more money down the drain. Buying the Wibit while the pool is still operating at a lose was a waste. Just my opinion.
dajoersch August 04, 2011 at 11:13 AM
Hi Dominick. I looked at the video. The shown products look like cheap chinese products. I think they do not have any safety certificates. I know the Wibit products and they are all prooved for safety by the german TÜV.
Dominick Nizza February 03, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Looking forward to Graydon NOT opening this 2012 season. That at least will get it back on the drawing board for some intelligent design planners. New leadership will be on board then.
News Man May 09, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Graydon's Widbit still not a solving membership loss. How does membership look for this 2013 season, more of the same?


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