BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Tuesday night, Jan. 10, the CEO of the Summit Area YMCA Paul Kieltyka, made a proposal that he said would save both the Berkeley Heights Community Pool and the Berkeley Heights YMCA.
Kieltyka proposed the township allow the Summit Area Y to lease the property on which the Berkeley Heights Community Pool (BHCP) is located. If that were to happen, the Y would make repairs to and run the BHCP and build a state-of-the-art facility on the site for the Berkeley Heights YMCA.
Berkeley Heights owns the 17.3 acres of land upon which the BHCP is built and leases it for $1 a year to the non-profit corporation that owns and operates the pool. There are about 1,200 members. The pool, which was built in 1964, is beyond its useful life and needs to be replaced, Kieltyka said.
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Their proposal is to "build a new, state-of-the-art facility," on the BHCP property on Locust Avenue, and to spend $225,000 to rehab the outdoor pool so it can open this year. Eventually the Y would build a new outdoor pool on the site Kieltyka said.
A new Y facility would also be built on the site, which actually has only about 3.9 acres of usable space on it. The facility would be 36,000 square feet, which would contain a full-size gym, space for a wellness center, an indoor track, meeting rooms, senior activities and a "six thousand square foot child care center," Kieltyka said.
Last year the Y managed the Berkeley Heights Community Pool and pool officials "asked us to manage the pool going forward," said Kieltyka. The Y is willing to do that, but for the pool to open this year, it needs repairs because it is leaking. The Y is committed to spend $225,000 to get the pool up and running in good shape for the summer season, but only if they have a commitment from the township that they will be able to lease the land and build a new facility for the Y within the next two and a half years.
New Providence resident Tom Hall, a volunteer at the Y said, "We want to find a way to save the Y facility and save the pool."
There is a deadline involved -- the board would need to know by the middle of February if they have the township's commitment to the project, in order for the pool to open this year. "March first is the last date" the BHCP can begin all the work needed to get the pool open, said Kieltyka.
All told the Y is prepared to make a "$10 million investment in Berkeley Heights," he said. Currently, the Y has 1,700 membership units; every seventh grade student in Berkeley Heights has a free membership; the Y provides after care for students at each of the schools and there is child care at the Y.
Despite the short time line, it may be possible to get this project approved. Council member Jeanne Kingsley suggested A memorandum of understanding would allow the Y and the BHCP and township to make arrangements that would get the pool open this summer, under the management of the YMCA, and pave the way for the new Y facility to be built on the pool site.
Mayor Robert Woodruff said, "Everyone wants to do this," and directed Township Attorney Joseph Sordillo to see what needs to be done to get the paperwork in order to meet everyone's deadlines.