Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to issue guidance on opening public pools during COVID-19.

WESTFIELD, NJ — Residents hoping to put in a backyard pool can still do so in time for summer, town officials said. 

As residents worry over the state of public pools, applications to the town for private pools have been coming in steadily, said Frank Vuoso, a construction official for the town.

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“There’s been one or two inquiries a day,” Vuoso said, speaking for the building department process for private pools.

Vuoso and other town officials say the pandemic has had no effect on the permit process for pools and should not prolong the process. When residents apply for a permit, zoning officials must review the permit in 10 days and the construction department has 20 days to review it again. After permits are approved, contractors can begin pool construction. 

“We've been busy throughout the pandemic,” Vuoso said. “We had a marginal slow down.”

Residents who need a variance, though, may be out of luck for getting a pool this summer. Variances are needed for pools if provisions in the town’s zoning ordinance are not met. When variances are needed, residents must send a separate application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment to get permit approval, which can take up to three months.

“Permits cannot be issued or reviewed until any necessary variance is obtained,” said Don Sammet, Westfield’s town planner.

The Westfield Recreation Department had anticipated opening Memorial Pool on June 6, contingent on state guidance for social distancing, but on Tuesday announced that opening the pool would likely happen later than that date.

“This delay is necessary to protect the health and safety of our members and employees with the proper accommodations to address all social distancing requirements issued by the State of New Jersey related to COVID-19,” the department announced Tuesday. “It is our expectation that once this guidance is finalized, our team will require several weeks to implement all related protocols.”

Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to issue guidance on opening public pools during COVID-19.

“It’s on the list,” Murphy said when asked about public pools at his Tuesday press briefing. “But I’ve got no news to report on that.”

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