It isn’t every day that Jersey City’s mayor makes his priorities this clear. But tonight Jersey City’s Municipal Council will vote on a plan put forward by the administration to charge all residents for the use of outdoor swimming pools.
For the first time, the city will charge fees ranging from $1 for seniors to $4 a day for adults. This may not sound like a lot to many people, but this is Jersey City where 16.1% of residents live in poverty and 42.6% of students are eligible to participate in the federal free and reduced price meal program.
The swimming pool fee comes on the heels of the equally troubling announcement that low-income families will now have to pay $150 for a two-week session at the city’s summer camp.
If you live in one of Downtown’s brownstones or luxury high-rises, these fees won’t affect your kids’ summer. But for hundreds of disadvantaged kids whose parents are struggling to put food on the table, these fees could make a hot summer a miserable summer.
“You’re basically asking financially challenged people to choose between their kid going to an activity or sitting around in the summer and doing nothing and having to make something to do. And odds are when kids make something to do, it’s not good things” said Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore of the new fees. Ward E Councilman James Solomon agreed. “We shouldn’t impose barriers that might keep them from safe, fun activities.”
But, apparently, the mayor has more important priorities, like Pompidou x, the modern art museum cooked up by mega-developer Charles Kushner that will cost $40 million to build and up to $12 million each year to run. Oh, and that’s not counting the $4.6 million in pre-opening consulting fees that are being sent to France as we write this.
But Pompidou is just the most blatant example of misplaced financial priorities. There was the five million extra the mayor spent to put off the property revaluation and protect his loyal Downtown base. There was the multi-million dollar renovation of City Hall and the cool million spent on a vertical garden. There was the needless expenditure for yet another report on the 911 call center. There is the bloated payroll of police upper brass. The list goes on and on.
As he sits on the deck of his Rhode Island beach house this summer, perhaps watching his own kids playing in the waves, one would hope he will think of the kid in Greenville stuck inside a sweltering rental with nothing to do. Not likely.
Photo by Pixabay