Weehawken is now permitting out-of-town residents to use the township’s outdoor pool.
The pool is located at the Waterfront Park and Recreation Center at 1 Port Imperial Boulevard. It opened in August of 2021, although there is still ongoing construction at the facility and its surroundings.
Due to the construction and COVID-19 restrictions, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner previously explained that the pool would not be open to non-residents yet despite a warning to do so from the state. However, things have since changed.
All NJ residents are welcome
The pool will now be open to out-of-towners between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. That time period coincides with the first of three sessions offered throughout the day at the pool.
“Our analysis of attendance throughout the month of July indicates that the morning session has the lowest usage,” the township’s registration form states. “The two-afternoon sessions will be available only to residents as we continue to analyze our attendance due to COVID restrictions and safety concerns.”
Attendance and parking are limited due to Weehawken’s COVID-19 protocols. Thus, the other two sessions at the pool will remain open for Weehawkenites only, from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Those who wish to use the pool must register in advance at form.jotform.com/221356183626153. Registrations will be completed on a first come, first served basis.
Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call the Township of Weehawken’s Recreation office at 201-319-6061.
“This is the first year the pool has been open, and it has been a learning experience for all involved, particularly in light of the Covid crisis and the need for social distancing and preventing unsafe overcrowding,” the form states.
Qualming issues with the DEP
The move comes after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered the township to open the pool up to non-residents this past June, considering that the project used millions in Green Acres funding on the overall $10.5 million project. The land was purchased with $2 million in Green Acres funding in 2000, and construction of the facility also saw the use of Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund monies and property developer fees.
In a letter to Turner dated June 8, the DEP noted that it expects non-residents to be provided immediate access to the pool and that Green Acres funds for ongoing projects in the community will not be released until the department has confirmation of pool access for non-residents. If the township did not comply with the Green Acres rules, the DEP warned it could risk funding to four other projects in the township currently utilizing $4 million in grants from the program.
Turner previously said that the DEP’s Green Acres funding paid for “about a third of the pool complex so far.” He added that, at the time, the DEP still owed Weehawken money for the complex.
Now Weehawken is complying with the DEP, opening the pool to non-residents. However, Turner noted this was a test, to see how everything goes.
Residents ready to swim
The outcry to open the pool to out-of-towners came from Hoboken residents were eager to go swimming. The city does not yet have its own municipal pool, currently allowing residents to use the pools at Stevens Institute of Technology and Hoboken High School.
However, a municipal pool has been included in proposals for a new municipal complex in Hoboken. In the meantime, residents were seeking to take a dip at the nearby pool in neighboring Weehawken, outdoors and right on the waterfront.
Hoboken officials, such as Council President Michasel Russo, Council Vice President Emily Jabbour, and Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, among others, praised the opening of Weehawken’s pool to non-residents. While Turner previously said that out-of-towners would not be allowed in the pool this season, the township decided to analyze turnout for each swim session to determine if it actually was possible to do so.
Throughout July, the township tallied attendance at all three sessions. There were the least amount of swimmers in the morning, leading to the township opening that session up to non-residents.
Turner also underscored that parking is still scarce at 70 spaces. However, by next year there will be approximately 180 parking spots.
Given that, the pool may expand more sessions for non-residents. This year, the pool will be open until Labor Day, September 5. If all goes well, and the weather cooperates, the season may be extended to include weekends throughout September.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.