By Jenna O’Donnell
OCEANPORT – A longstanding borough pool may reopen under new management this summer after two potential operators expressed interest in running it at a council meeting last month.
The future of the Oceanport pool and snack bar, a fixture in Blackberry Bay Park since the 1970s, recently came into question when its longtime operators informed borough officials they would not be renewing their annual lease for the 2017 season. After a request for proposals for a new vendor to run the pool and snack bar went unanswered, borough officials said they had been approached by two interested groups, including the Community YMCA.
Mayor John “Jay” Coffey was hopeful one of the two potential parties might take over stewardship of the pool in time to reopen this summer.
“I’d hate to see it not open,” he said. “We hope that one of these operators is committed by the April 20 meeting.”
Borough residents shared Coffey’s hope the pool would reopen for the summer, many asking for updates on the fate of the popular pool on the town residents’ Facebook Group page.
The pool and snack bar, though located on municipal property, are not actually owned by the borough, according to officials. The concrete pool was financed and built in 1971 by members of the Oceanport Lions Club. For four decades, the Oceanport Lions Swim Club was operated by volunteers as nonprofit (distinct from the Oceanport Lions Club) under a yearly $1 lease from the borough.
“This past year they said ‘We’re done’,” Coffey said. “They told us in February that we’d have to find someone else to run it.”
With two potential bidders interested, officials have extended the deadline for proposals and hope to have an update on the pools status at the April 20 council meeting.
Longtime Lions member John Bonforte Sr., who helped build the club in the marshes with his own company bulldozer, said the Lions are happy to know the club may yet have a second life. “We’re for anything that helps the people of Oceanport,” he said.
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