May 18, 2014 at 7:25 AM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Community Pool kicked off their 50th Anniversary season with a ribbon cutting on Saturday, May 17 with the founding fathers, board members, Mayor Joe Bruno, Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Councilman Craig Pastore.
The golden anniversary of the Berkeley Heights Community Pool is a time for reflection and celebration - not only of a community symbol but of the idea that kids need a place to have fun in the summer. "It's great celebrating 50 years for the season," said Patricia Parmett, Pool Trustee.
"The Community Pool has been a great asset to our community. It gives many kids in this town a place to come and enjoy their summer and get swim lessons. A countless number of kids have learned how to swim here," said Arthur Barbera, BHCP President. "It has grown with the community."
"It's about getting them here - get them to learn how to swim - get them comfortable," said Bill Benson, a founding father of the pool. "Getting the families together -- to me, that was the big thing. It worked out that way."
The pool originated behind the work of 10 volunteers that formed an ad hoc committee. We incorporated officers under the leadership of Ernie Prupis, said Warren Roche, a pool founding father. "It was started in February and we swam in July."
"We worked with a pool contractor and their bids were all too high," recalled Roche. With the engineering background of Benson, the volunteers became their own contractor. "Tommy Guinee pulled the plans apart and we found local contractors. They took part of their payment in bonds," said Roche. "This put it back into a budget where we could afford to build it."
"The interesting part, we didn't know how big to make it," said Roche. At the time Berkeley Heights consisted of 3,300 families and 1,050 became members. Membership was $60 per family said Benson. "We wanted it so the kids could get here, we didn't want to price them out."
"They had the foresight to build this pool with the resources they had -- and it has lasted all of these years," said Barbera.
"The dedication of the founding fathers to get this open is amazing. It's a community venue, around for 50 years. It's a welcoming place for the community and thank god we have it," said Mayor Bruno.
Erika Naftalis, Pool Manager, is excited to start her second summer at the pool. She set goals last season on making improvements and she is proud that her vision has come to fruition. New bathroom floors were installed in both the ladies and men's locker rooms as well as in the snack bar. The carpeting has been replaced in the entrance and the facility has been painted in tropical colors. The chair storage room has been gutted and enlarged with additional shelving.
"Our great group of kids are back with a few new faces," said Naftalis. The staff is preparing drills and getting ready for the summer.
Visit the Berkeley Heights Community Pool website for membership information and to sign-up for the swim and dive team.
The pool will be hosting their 5th Annual Charlie Blecker Youth Triathlon on May 31. This is a community event for any child between the ages of 7 and 12 to come swim/bike/run.
Mark your calendars for the 50th Anniversary Kick-off Celebration on June 14 and a Family BBQ is planned for July 19.
Interested in a membership, click here to register.