Raritan Council Approves Splash Pad for Basilone Park
By Nicolas Carra
While the vote had many factors to consider, it was worth the effort to simply initiate a study on a possible replacement for the non-functioning pool at Basilone Park with a splash pad. This location is a great idea because it is on the opposite side of town from Frelinghuysen Park. It should be noted that Frelinghuysen Park is directly across the street from Mr. Kempe’s home, and blocks away from his council running mate’s home too. It is important to note that having a splash pad at Basilone Park would serve many town residents as it is adjacent to John F. Kenndey School and is in our second largest neighborhood.
Having a splash pad, rather than a pool, would also eliminate the need to find lifeguards. This has been a challenge not just for Raritan, but for many communities across the state. The management solution I advocated for requires less staff for operations. Unlike our restricted availability for lifeguards, the splash pad can operate at any desired time. Unlike opening a pool, which requires filling the pool, filtration, buying chlorine (cost has increased significantly), having a Certified Pool Operator conduct daily inspections; the splash pad can be opened with the flip of a switch. To eliminate these costly inconveniences of running a pool, it is worth the effort to try something different with Basilone Park. It should be noted that there is no plan to close the wading pool at Frelinghuysen Park. We can easily operate the splash pad during the warmer days in May and June without having to quickly hire staff or do all the steps necessary to open a pool for the K-4 students at JFK school and those who live in that neighborhood.
The success of splash pads located away from pools can be seen across the county, including the new splash park built by Somerset County’s Park Commission at Colonial Park. I understand the opinion of others about maybe wanting to use a wading pool after the splash park, but I strongly feel my stated reasons listed above far outweigh the personal preferences of others. I feel as though the discussions regarding the splash pad should focus on serving all community members. While Frelinghuysen Park has varied amenities for all ages and the fields are well maintained by Public Works. Its location is near our eastern boundary with Somerville while Basilone Park is on our Western boundary with Bradley Gardens.
My vision for Raritan recreation is to expand upon all our parklands. I have this proudly listed in my literature and I further elaborate on this in my upcoming profile that the BReeze is writing for the upcoming election in their October issue. I want more than one developed park in town to serve all community members in many neighborhoods. I want to invest in all our parks, not just Basilone, but Washington School and Elizabeth Avenue parks too. I would also like to see more amenities for adolescents, adults, and seniors at Washington School Park. We have the land up there to do a more large-scale project, like a walking path. Lastly, on a personal note, I grew up blocks away from Frelinghuysen Park myself and have enjoyed many summer days there as a kid. I want kids in other Raritan neighborhoods to have a local park that they can go to with friends within walking distance or via a quick bike ride.