After some discussion last Thursday about whether it should or not, the township council has decided to use a $22,000 county grant to upgrade certain aspects of the municipal pool.
The grant is a matching one, so Mahwah will also need to throw $22,000 into an upgrade project. According to officials, the township received the grant several years ago, but has yet to use it. It is set to expire, and if it’s unused by this spring, the money will be returned to the county.
The grant can only be used for upgrades to the pool’s playground or to install small water features at the intermediate pool, but officials said it would likely not be enough money to do both.
At a meeting last Thursday, the council discussed what it should do with the grant in the context of a larger planned overhaul of the municipal pool, which has been consistently costing the town hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate, and attracting a shrinking number of patrons, each year.
The council said it will likely hire a consultant this year to make recommendations on what could be done to upgrade the municipal pool and make it more attractive to residents. However, that would not happen until after the grant’s expiration.
“I’m not so sure we should be putting $22,000 into the pool when we are going to hire a consultant,” Councilman Steve Sbarra said.
“I think we should reapply for [the grant] after we get a better feel for what we actually need there.”
However, other council members disagreed, arguing that improvements made to the playground could stay in no matter what the consultant’s recommendations are.
“So much has to be done [to upgrade the pool area], I’d hate to throw away $22,000,” Councilman Harry Williams said. “My vote would be to execute this grant.”
A majority of the council agreed with Williams, and voted last week to use the grant. The township’s administrator said he would get quotes from vendors on work the grant could pay for.
Meanwhile, council members said the consultant will likely look at a wide range of possibilities for the pool’s future, including privatizing it.