The Fulop Administration has proposed cutting free swimming at Jersey City’s outdoor pools. For the first time in recent memory, kids and adults will have to ante up to use the two outdoor municipal pools — Pavonia/Marion Municipal Pool, 914 Pavonia Ave., and Lafayette Aquatic Center, 303 Van Horne St. — starting this summer.
And fees at the city’s indoor pool at Pershing Field Park, 201 Central Ave., will be boosted.
City administrators have asked the City Council to set in motion the changes by introducing an ordinance April 26 to change municipal pool entrance fees. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed new fees at the council meeting May 10.
If adopted, the new fees would take effect Memorial Day weekend, the traditional opening for the pool season.
Lucinda McLaughlin, city director of Parks, Recreation and Youth Development, said the city can’t afford to continue offering free aquatics services at its outdoor pools or for Pershing pool at rates that are “really as low as they go” and that are “not with the times” to sustain $1.43 million in staffing costs at all three pools.
The going rate for comparable pool systems in the area, McLaughlin said, is “three times as much” as now being charged by Jersey City.
New York City however, charges no fee for swimming at outdoor pools and allows those under 25 to swim for free in its indoor recreation centers.
Because the city draws on New Jersey Green Acres funding to help support pool operations, it is permitted to charge out-of-town residents double the amount residents pay, McLaughlin said, but since the city has historically allowed residents into its outdoor pools for free, “two times zero is zero.”
Jersey City currently does charge out-of-towners double the residents’ rate for annual membership to indoor pool at Pershing Field. There a Jersey City adult resident pays $150 per year to use the pool any time; an out-of-town adult must cough up $300 for an annual membership.
For other categories of pool memberships, the same rule applies.
For example: semi-annual fees are currently $75 for a resident adult versus $150 for a non-resident adult; $100 for a resident child between ages 10 and 18 inclusive versus $200 for a non-resident child; and $50 for a resident senior citizen (age 62 and older) versus $100 for a non-resident senior.
The ordinance now being considered by the council calls exclusively for 6-month fees of $200 for a resident adult (age 18 to 61) and $400 for a non-resident adult; $75 for a resident child (age 17 and under) and $150 for a non-resident child; and $75 for a resident senior (age 62 and older) and $150 for a non-resident senior.
Daily pool fees for residents, which would apply to Pershing, Pavonia and Lafayette, would not change and would be set at: $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends/holidays for adults; $2 on weekdays and $3 on weekends/holidays for children; and $1 on weekdays and on weekends/holidays for seniors. Prices would be twice as much in each category for non-residents.
Whether some type of seasonal fee schedule, other than six months, would be offered members of the Pavonia and Lafayette pools is unclear from the current wording of the ordinance.
On Wednesday, the council will also be asked to award three vendor contracts related to pool operations calling for expenditures of $41,700 for a new water slide for the Lafayette Aquatic Center to replace one that McLaughlin called “outdated and (deemed) unsafe for use” by toddlers; $59,277 for bulk chlorine for all three pools; and $29,750 to open and close pools between April and October.
Asked by Ward F Councilmember Frank Gilmore about the condition of a water spray at Berry Lane Park in the Lafayette section, McLaughlin described the equipment’s operation as “a mess” subject to frequent breakdowns that she attributed to faulty design leading to situations where “a single leaf can clog the filter.” She said she anticipated her staff giving it their “constant attention.”
Quizzed about the status of the Pershing ice rink, which the city shut down for much of the winter season due to ineffective equipment, McLaughlin said that $2 million has been reserved in the city budget for anticipated repairs that the city is putting out for bid.
In other matters, the council is expected Wednesday to consider an application by Local Modiv LLC to operate a cannabis retail business at 155 Newark Ave. The city Planning Board voted to endorse the application in March 2022, but after being denied approval by the city Cannabis Control Board in September 2022, the applicant sued, and Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula ruled in December 2022 that the CCB acted arbitrarily and capriciously, resulting in a favorable re-vote in January 2023.
The council previously voted for a 6-month moratorium on reviewing further cannabis business applications, with that moratorium slated to begin May 15, but city Corporation Counsel Peter Baker advised the governing body that with regard to Local Modiv, “by order of the Superior Court,” it was obliged to “place the matter on the (meeting) agenda by no later than April 26.”
And, Baker said, the matter was “still subject to ongoing court proceedings,” even after the council reviews the application.
Baker declined to elaborate in public, saying he would brief the council further in executive session.
The council is also due to review an application by Cannaboutique By Greenhouse LLC to operate a cannabis retail business at 125 Columbus Ave.