Renovated pool in Colgate Park opens

Photo Courtesy of City of Orange Twp. The Colgate Park pool has been plastered and painted and given various upgrades in time for the summer.

ORANGE, NJ — Marty Mayes was the first person to jump in the newly renovated community pool in Colgate Park.

“I grew up two blocks from the pool,” said Mayes, who is the director of Public Works for Orange. “This is the one I used to come to as a kid. That made it even more special. That’s why I wanted to be the first one to jump in.”

Born and raised in Orange, Mayes was a legendary football player at Orange High School. He was an All-State selection and received a full athletic scholarship to Rutgers University where he was an academic All-American.

Colgate Pool is one of three in Orange and it averages 550 visitors a day in the summer but it had fallen into disrepair and was in urgent need of renovations.

“The pool was in such bad shape that they were talking about not even opening it for the year,” said Nicholas DeCotiis, a senior engineer at Matrix New World Engineering who oversaw the engineering and landscape architecture for the renovation.

“We helped the city put together a package to go out to bid to fix the pool,” DeCotiis said. “We got a contractor on board and the contractor did a great job. During the process we got additional money to upgrade the pool from just painting to plastering it.”

Colgate Park was founded by the citizens of Orange in 1918. The pool was dedicated by Llewellyn Park resident, Richard M. Colgate, grandson of the founder of the Colgate Co. The playground was opened and dedicated in September 1918 and was originally known as Washington Playground. It was renamed in the 1930s to honor Colgate, who passed away shortly after. Colgate Park is equipped with a playground, baseball or softball field with lights, horseshoe pits, and a walking path.

Orange successfully applied for and received just under $300,000 in financial assistance to make the necessary repairs, with half of the money coming from the Community Block Development Grant and the other half coming from an Essex County Open Space Grant, enabling the pool to be rehabilitated without residents bearing any additional costs.

“Let this and all other projects that we are doing at our parks show that we are committed to moving Orange forward,” said Mayor Dwayne Warren.

Improvements included refreshing the pool with new coping around the edges, and a new plaster interior with a 10-year lifespan, replacing damaged skimmers, and improving Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access to ensure that all residents can enjoy the pool.

“There was some outdated ADA access. It had these steps where if you were in a wheelchair, you would sit down and slide down into the pool,” DeCotiis said.

“We put in an ADA lift that can take someone in a wheelchair and put them in the pool.”
Additionally, an automatic water filling system was added eliminating the need for a hose that had to be watched at all times and electrical bonding was upgraded to prevent people from being injured during an electrical storm. New racing stripes were also added to the bottom of the pool.

“Matrix was honored to be a part of this renovation that will return the pool to the residents of Orange, NJ, in its original operating state,” said Jayne Warne, president of Matrix.

DeCotiis said the project took about 6 months and he said “a lot of the credit” goes to Mayes.
“The key to it was we had the pool sealed and replastered,” Mayes said. “I don’t believe it had ever been done since the pool was built.”

Mayes said it was costing more and more to open the pool each year because of its deteriorating condition.

“We thought we were going to spend $10,000 to get it up and running and the cost was increasing every year,” Mayes said. “We won’t have to pay that expense for many years to come. It’s been totally renovated.”

There are three pools in Orange and this was the last to be renovated, Mayes said.
“It looks great,” Mayes said. “It looks like a new pool, brand new.”