September 23, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 19 about 50/50. The people who worried about water quality said the answer was a plan advanced by the Ridgewood Pool Project to build rectangular pools with concrete walls and bottoms, as opposed to the sand-bottomed lake that now exists at the Maple and Linwood intersection. They said this impermeable pool wall and floor would make it easier to maintain water quality and keep the water clean and clear. The objectors said pool chemicals are also a menace to people with certain allergies and skin conditions, and are not good for the environment. Moreover, because Graydon is based on an actual lake – it was once a pond where farmers watered their livestock, and their kids almost certainly swam – a lot of the water in the lake flows in from an artesian source. Since the water is not simply standing, it is possible to maintain acceptable water quality – acceptable, that is, to most people – without resorting to the same level of chemicals that would be needed to keep a closed-system pool clean. The people who want to keep Graydon lake-like raised other points: sandy beaches are a lot of fun, and not as apt to produce injuries as concrete. The idea of bonding a $10 million project that may or may not be an answer to the pool enrollment problem was called into serious question, and the exterior aesthetics of the rectangular pool complex was referred to as “a water park” and a potential “white elephant.” A man who grew up in Glen Rock and spoke German he learned in school with almost no accent when I talked to him, advanced a plan to use a secondary lake, stocked with much-absorbing and thirsty hydroponic plants, to filter the water naturally and without the abuse of harsh chemicals. This plan is marketed by a German corporation, though it is also popular in the Netherlands and in France. It landed with a muffled thud. I thought it was a pretty good idea, but I have never been into chemicals, not even in college. Meanwhile, some pool preservers took it upon themselves to drag in Glen Rock, which was part of Ridgewood until 1894 and deserves some representation, even if it’s from me. People who want a lake-like pool said Glen Rock’s concrete pool was “too popular” and conjured up images of a pool so crowded that the swimmers were packed in like sardines and could not swim because there was no room. I have been there, and a lot of my neighbors go there all the time, and this is not what’s playing. I have yet to witness an underwater collision or heads poking up like the Dragon’s Teeth in the tale of Jason and Medea. Glen Rock’s pool system is working very well, perhaps arousing some envy, and you can never be “too popular” or “too rich.” On that note, we will drop the subject of why one faction felt disposed to falsely blame a well-known village resident as the sinister instigator and mastermind of the Ridgewood Pool Project when he came in with an opinion – and no donation – when the plan had already been perking along for more than two and a half years without his input. I know this to be the case, and so does everyone in Ridgewood Village Hall. There was no more discussion of that issue after the resident in question called his lawyer and the word “libel” came up. The debate may go on for months because the Ridgewood Village Council likes to achieve some sort of consensus, and the factions in this case are so polarized that any consensus appears unlikely. The Preserve Graydon Coalition wants a lake with a better filtration system. The Ridgewood Pool Project and a group that may be considered an auxiliary, Fix Graydon Now, want a concrete pool complex with a better filtration system. Neither side likes the other’s aesthetic design, but both want clean water. Both have shown that they can draw several hundred people to a meeting. Here is what ordinary citizens can do: Lose the lawns. Plant hedges and shrubs around the outside perimeters of yards, trees within, flower gardens, ferns, vegetables – uncut grass if the maintenance code lets you get away with it – and if it doesn’t, it needs to be subjected to a constitutional challenge, because unless whatever is growing is poisonous, allergenic, or a potential hallucinogen, nobody has a constitutional right to tell you that it can’t be allowed to grow. People who want to supervise other people’s lawns are a drain on the taxpayers. What they should really do is pull out ragweed, because ragweed is a threat to people with allergies. Plucking up that other weed is okay, too. Let the grass grow as it was meant to, don’t fertilize it with chemicals, and turn every patch of green that is not used for athletic competition or serious exercise into shrubbery, rock gardens, or forests with ferns. This will make a small but welcome contribution to the Earth’s atmosphere, and a very welcome deletion to the flow of phosphate-tainted water into whatever swimming pool the public eventually decides it wants. The debate about the future of Graydon Pool has been the big news of the summer and the story may well continue until next summer. It could be a win-win issue for both sides of the controversy, for those who dwell beside Ho-Ho-Kus Brook here and elsewhere, and for the fish and whales in the Atlantic Ocean, the polar bears, and everyone else who does not want to use the Northeast Passage between Siberia and the Arctic Ice Cap for commercial purposes. How do we do this? We lift ourselves ever so gently from targeting our neighbors as the villains of the piece and realize that the principal problem with Graydon Pool is that it is downhill from too much asphalt, too much coarse gravel, and too many manicured lawns. Graydon, for all its scenic beauty, is one of the last steps down a flight of invisible stairs that begins somewhere around the crest of the hill that borders Ridgewood and Midland Park, and ends where the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook carries water downhill toward the Atlantic Ocean. Graydon is the last step surrounded by solid land on all sides. In a heavy rain, water washes down all the way from Midland Park, maybe even from Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes, runs down the streets and sidewalks, and is then washed farther down and into Graydon unless it gets all the away to the brook. I recently hiked that vicinity during a fairly heavy rainstorm and the force of the water coming down toward Graydon was palpable. What happens when you get water that runs off parking lots and roofs? You get a lot more water than you would if it were running through a forest. What happens when you get water that runs over lawns before it reaches standing water? You get all those natural and chemical fertilizers people use to keep the lawn coming up when they insist on cropping the grass off so it never develops properly. Grass is not supposed to just lie there, like someone’s crew cut or the pile on a carpet. It is supposed to cluster in tufts, send up stalks with seeds to germinate, and send down roots deep enough to get through dry times without turning pale yellow or brown. The grass can’t do its thing when it is cut every week, so of course it needs far more irrigation than it would if it were allowed to grow normally. It also needs far more fertilizer so it can grow like a carpet or a putting green. Those fertilizers have an overwhelming impact on standing water that makes it difficult, some would say impossible, to keep it from turning into an algae farm and nurturing the kinds of organic life that some people with weak immune systems find a threat to health. One man recently told Ridgewood officials he found the Hudson River less polluted than Graydon. Some agreed, and others did not. There was lively and cogent commentary from both sides. A civic-minded Ridgewood resident who kept count at that meeting said the people who had negative comments about Graydon’s water quality outnumbered those who spoke positively about the pool’s water by a little more than two to one. The mayor said he thought the factions were How to save Graydon Pool whatever the design may be Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: I am writing this letter in response to articles that appeared in your newspaper on Sept. 2 and 16. As a 30-year resident of Franklin Lakes, I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly of what passes for educational discourse in the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District. Mr. Saxton’s pending lawsuit against Ira Belsky and other “unnamed” individuals on the board of education, in which he accuses them of “scandal, libel and a breach of school board policy,” does not fit neatly into any of the categories listed above. The word that comes to my mind is sad. It saddens me that the former superintendent, who understands how costly Saddened by suit it is to maintain quality education in the current economic climate, has chosen to file a lawsuit that will drain precious dollars from the district. As to the issue of defending his professional reputation, how much more validation does the former superintendent require? Already, the new district administrative building has been dedicated in his name. The members of the same board of education who granted this honor to Mr. Saxton – to the tune of $5,000 taxpayer dollars – are now being to forced to squander additional taxpayer dollars to defend themselves in court. How sad. How wasteful. Diane Dobrow Franklin Lakes A new school year It’s back to school for students of The Village School’s Elementary and Middle School. Students and their parents were invited for a “Meet and Greet Breakfast” to help kick-off the new school year. Pictured are Ellie of Ridgewood, Elise of Mahwah and Audrey of Ridgewood.