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Talks Continue on Future of Watchung's Playground Program

Details still need to be resolved over a proposed move to Brook Hill Swim Club.

Negotiations are continuing over moving Watchung's summer playground program from Mobus Field to the Brook Hill Swim and Tennis Club on Drift Road.

Councilman Stephen Pote said at Thursday’s borough council meeting that the club’s board will be meeting to consider the proposal.

Pote said the playground program, not held in 2012 because of decreased participation, would charge $250 per child for six weeks, five days a week, of activities at the club.

“It’s a very reasonable price to pay,” he said, noting that it compares with the fees charged by other day camps in the area.

Seventy-five children need to sign up for the program for it to be economically “self-funding,” Pote said, and added that parents would have to provide transportation to the club.

The borough’s liability insurance would cover the children at the club, Pote added.

The Recreation Commission is talking with club representatives over the use of the pool and tennis courts at this point.

Another issue to be resolved is how the program’s counselors will be hired. Pote said the commission is looking into hiring the counselors through the same group that provides lifeguards at the club.

One of the problems still outstanding is determining whether there is adequate shelter for the children on a rainy day. There is a space by the club’s locker room that could be used to house the children for a short time, but that may be inadequate for a longer spell of inclement weather.

Pote said there is also a possible a “tent-like” structure that could be erected.

“We still have more work to do,” Recreation Commission member John Pennet told the council, adding that the commission wants to schedule a working session with Brook Hill members to work out the remaining issues.

Pennet said the commission would like to have an agreement with the club worked out by the end of April to give parents enough time to make arrangements for summer activities.

Pote said the proposal is a “win-win” because it revitalizes the playground program and helps out a borough business.

But that still wasn’t enough to convince councilman William Nehls to support the concept.

“I don’t think we should be, as a borough, subsidizing a private entity,” he said.

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