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The pool issue

I know this has been debated extensively on the various message boards throughout the Town, but I had to get my 2 cents in. The reasons are following: it is stupid and cost prohibitive to have a private pool in this climate, because you can use it only for maybe 2 months, possibly 4, provided you have water heating installed. So, what is one to do in this heat? Turn to your municipal pool. And in there lies the problem - the municipal pools of Montclair are one step removed from being recycled water collectors.

This is one of those pools:

Nothing to write home about. Basically, a concrete slab with a hole filled with water and a 10 foot fence. On most days, you are lucky to have a place on this concrete slab to rest your things, and let me not talk about the quality and availability of the chairs and umbrellas. Or lack there of. And sustenance - who needs that? Area for small kids, who comprise a VERY large chunk of population - why? If you need to take a break and take the kids to the playground, you have to dress, and then walk 300 feet. By the time you get there, everyone has lost interest. Shade? Huh. And so on, and so forth.

By the way, this review is no reflection on the staff that operates the pools. They are actually very good.

Here are some of the neighboring towns. Verona, for example:

And this is just one corner of the pool property. Then there is Glen Ridge:

I know, bad photo, but you get the idea. And last, but not least, West Caldwell:

Adirondack chairs? Slides? Snack bars? Drink bars? Playgrounds? Baby pool? Wow.

Anyway, my point is: yes, our pool fees are a bargain compared to our neighbors, being at least 3 to 5 times less than others, but at what cost? I'd rather have a nice pool and pay more, than splash around in the recycled water collector.

But, that's just me, it seems.

There was a fierce debate in the Council, and about Town, about raising the fees $5 per category. There were concerns that people will no be able to afford it. $5? Really? Then may I be so bold as to suggest that those people have bigger problems than pool access. It was suggested that the ideal of the Montclair pools is that everyone should be able to get access. True. And this is why we provide subsidies. Well, apparently, that is not good enough, because we should also take care not to hurt peoples' feelings and their self esteems by putting them in the situation to ask for subsidy. Seriously?

Many people don't know this, but there was a time in my life when I needed help. I came to this country as a refugee, with $20 to my name, and an underage sister to take care of. I was barely 19. We both worked and went to school. I worked two jobs. Still, it wasn't enough, so I turned to the government for help. There was nothing hard or embarrassing about it. We weren't able to make ends meet, so we asked for help. I swore I will forever be grateful and give back as much as I can, whenever I can. And I do. And I'll also tell you this - never, during those months we received help, did it occur to us to be concerned about having access to a pool, free or not, even though we are Mediterranean and we love to swim.

So, here is my advice: our Town fathers and mothers should be more concerned about providing us good services. And this includes pools. They should be less concerned about pleasing all 40,000 of us and more concerned that we have solid services. Because we can't have it both ways. There will always be someone who complains, and we simply can't charge or collect enough taxes to shut up every complainer.

And, please, start using some common sense. It helps.


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