LIVINGSTON, NJ — In an ongoing discussion about the future of Livingston’s two community pools, Haines Memorial Pool located at Wahler Road near the high school and Northland Park Pool located at Jefferson Court, the Livingston Township Council received an update on Monday on the proposed 10-Year Master Plan to either bring both pools up to current standards or to eliminate one pool and focus all efforts and finances on the other.
Jennifer Walker, director of Senior, Youth & Leisure Services (SYLS), and Ken Lomax, athletic and aquatic supervisor for the township, attended the mayor and council meeting on Monday with drafts of the two proposals, recommendations from the developers and rough estimates on pricing. The group also discussed the need to come up with options for what to do with the additional facility should the council decide to eliminate one of the pools.
Similar to the preliminary discussion in April, Walker said the department’s guidance on this project is coming primarily from the contractors, whose recommendation is for the township to concentrate on one facility.
“We’re kind of in the same spot we were last time and I’m trying to make a decision for where we should go for the future,” said Walker. “The only numbers that we can come up with are guesstimates because without knowing which way we’re going to go, we have no idea.”
Hypothetically, according to Walker, if the township decided to close down Northland and renovate Haines, an operating number cannot be determined until the developers and township agree on a draft of what the new site would look like.
Although Mayor Shawn Klein said it would be useful to know how the price to re-do one of the pools would break down as a monthly payment and what the potential income would look like based on fees, Walker said there is no concrete way to assess it without drawing up an architectural plan.
“The only way to assess it is to guess where our membership’s at now and would it stay the same,” said Walker. “Depending on the facilities that we’ve built, I think it would—and grow—but there’s no way to know until we have an architectural plan as to what we would put in there and then look at what our fees would be.”
Lomax analyzed the current rental fees for teams and other groups at approximately $100 per hour for full outdoor pool space. Lomax said an option the township is also looking into is a year-round facility to include an indoor pool, which would greatly increase the usage time as well as the hourly fee.
On Monday, Walker said she could provide all of the statistics for the current expenses, current revenue and current usage for both facilities.
“It might make sense to get some ideas what the additional debt service would be if we were to do nothing, do something in the middle and do something where the whole wish list is put in,” said Councilman Rudy Fernandez. “And then the thing is, we’ve never really had the serious discussion of does the town still need two pools and then also what do we do with the other facility?”
Councilman Ed Meinhardt said that as township continues the discussion, it would be beneficial to look at a few different scenarios.
“Just to be clear, we have the two plans that the contractors came up with, and there are numbers involved with that,” said Walker. “The second part of this project is to move forward with a Master Plan…where they will come up with the finances on generally what we’re looking to do and how much that will cost for one facility or two. Where we’re at a standstill is, we need to decide.”
Currently, according to Walker, the proposed renovations would cost more than $10 million to bring both pools up to standard: approximately $8 million for Haines and another $4.5 million for Northland. Should the council decide to concentrate on one and eliminate the other, the contractors will then draw up a Master Plan based on the township’s needs—how many pools, a potential indoor pool, etc.—and come up with an operating number.
Ultimately, all parties agree that the conditions at both pools need both cosmetic and infrastructural renovations, but the conversation of whether to focus on the revamping of one pool or both is ongoing and the solution is not clear or easy, according to the council.