NEWTON, NJ—During the month of July, the Newton Town Council held two meetings. The first was held on July 8 and the second occurred on July 22.
During the second council meeting, a public made up of around 25 people spoke up to the Newton Town Council about the pool issue.
The pool, which has been closed all summer, is currently undergoing an engineering study according to the council, to determine what needs to be fixed to maintain the pool.
Eight of the attendees spoke to the council members, which included all but Town Manager, Thomas S Russo, Jr. who was not in attendance due to a previous commitment at the same time as the meeting.
One resident initiated the conversation, explaining that he saw the new “SOS” pool signs that are up around town that are asking for help in saving the pool.
Maureen Snellen voiced her concerns about a few pictures that were surfacing around on social media. The pictures Snellen referred to showed the pool water as green, that the lounge chairs were left out in the weather since the pool was closed and that there were sticks or “trees” growing in the baby pool.
Karen Hardin-Kitchell referred to the pool as the “gem of Sussex County” and asked the following questions to the council: “what happened to the pool that it is the way it is now after all the work that the town put into it in previous years and what is to happen now to fix what is happening to it while it is not being used.”
Sarah Lister, a friend of Tracy Paparella who has been lobbying for the pool alongside others since it was announced that it was closing said she was “blown away by the people who are speaking up about the pool” and “does not want the pool to become an empty resource. Let’s not give-up on this too. We need to get it open for 2020.”
Ralph Porter wanted to know why the study was taking so long and if there was an issue with it. He also noted that there are plenty of services that the Town of Newton provides such as EMS, Police, and Fire that do not make the town any money, but “I’m sure the town would not want to get rid of those services.”
Another attendee, who is currently living in Fredon but grew up in Newton, told the council that the “pool creates a sense of community.” She noted that the swim team helped with the revenue in Newton and that it has always been a pristine swim location in the county.
“The children learned about volunteerism, it provided jobs to the youth as life guards and offered swim lessons to the youth. It was a hub of Sussex County and really showcased Newton to the county.”
Once the first public portion was over, the council members responded about their intentions for the pool,
Mayor Helen LeFois said that “no one on this council wants to pool to close, that is not our intention at all.” She said there will be updates on the pool and the study at the August 5 meeting and a more in-depth presentation showing the results of the study at the September 11 meeting. “It is about safety, maintenance, and the sustainability of the pool for the future.”
Deputy Mayor Daniel Flynn agreed with LeFois remarks and also noted that he has “no intention of closing the pool. I only want to see it thrive.”
Councilwoman Sandra Diglio, Councilman Matthew Dickson and Councilman Jason Schlaffer all agreed with LeFois’ remarks as well.
Diglio noted that she wants to stop the misinformation that is going around and even went to the pool herself to take pictures and the pool had just been refilled so there was no green water and the chairs are made of a special material that is specifically made to withstand the weather and be outside all year round.
Dickson noted that it was “always my intention to have the pool reopen and the goal is to be able to have it next summer as long as it is feasible and safe.”
Schlaffer echoed the same remarks as the other council members, stating that the council need to “get professional insight so that no more band-aids were needed and that it would be fixed so it could be safe for all those who would use it.”
Felicia Carlson said she was glad that the council is all unified in their intentions to not close the pool. She also announced to everyone that the 60 anniversary of the pool will be happening on June 24, 2020 and she hopes that the pool will be open to celebrate it.
Updates on the pool and the study will be given at the August 5 meeting and a more in-depth presentation showing the results of the study will be given at the September 11 meeting. Public comments are always welcome during the two public portions of the town council meetings.