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Ice Skating Could Be Prohibited in Bloomingdale With New Ordinance

Council hopes to prevent accidents similar to that which led to the deaths of two Mount Olive teens last month.

It's not about taking the fun away. It's about saving lives.

Bloomingdale Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy said he is hopeful the public understands that the intentions of an ordinance that will be up for a vote at next week's council meeting prohibiting ice skating on borough ponds are to ensure safety of residents, particularly youth.

The council began discussion on the ordinance applicable to the two public ponds-Bogue Pond and Oakwood Lake-during a council meeting on Feb. 5. Currently, Dunleavy said, ice activities are not encouraged but there is not a formal restriction on the books.

"The policy of the borough is if the police saw [people] skating, they would ask them to stop," the mayor said.

Dunleavy said consideration of the formal ordinance began following the accidental deaths of of Budd Lake while ice-fishing last month. Authorities spent days recovering the bodies of the teenagers as the community and several surrounding communities mourned their loss.

The biggest concern of Bloomingdale police officers is that the ponds are not monitored. Without restricting the ice activities, Dunleavy said the borough could be found liable for accidents that may occur.

"If you don't enforce it and don't address it, then you're kind of condoning it because of not having an ordinance," he said.

The ordinance would not have an effect on the private lakes, Dunleavy said, as the private communities in which they are located have control over lake activities.

If the ordinance passes after the public hearing, signs explaining the restrictions would be hung near the ponds. The public hearing will be held Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

Mr. Tom Fox February 14, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Dear Mayor Dunleavy. "Please" do not pass this ordinace to not allow our residents to enjoy a wonderful outdoor activity. There are so few that we have here in Bloomingdale and and anything that gets the kids out of the house or the families together is a good thing. Unlike the very large, deep lake in Bud Lake, these ponds are shallow and they freeze over more quickly and entirely when the temperature drops. How about putting a red flag / green flag system in place like many of our other local lakes do and when the Red flag is up, everyone knows the ice is unsafe and to stay off of it. The police can then patrol it with the understanding that no one is supposed to be on the ice do to an unsafe condition. When the ice is safe, checked by a member of our towns recreation committee (which is not busy during the winter time), then the residents can enjoy the wonderful activity that we are fortunate to have available to us. Ice skating is a wonderful healthy activity and it is a wonderful tool in the tool box to fight obesity and to ban it would just hurt the cause. We all feel the pain of the loss recently at Budd Lake but we can't wrap a bubble around our kids and tell them to not get off the couch or to not go outside because something may happen to them. It's not healthy and it's not right.
SNJFireFighter February 14, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I agree with Mr. Tom Fox completely. There should be a red flag/ green flag system put in place.
Meredith Mascitello February 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Banning behavior doesn't stop it. Humans have free will. I can understand the liability concern, but why can't we put up "skate at your own risk" signs? Time for a return to personal responsibility in society.
Joanne February 14, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Education about safe skating is part of growing up and kids who have access to outdoor skating should be informed. I agree that the Recreation Committee could help in this regard and that a flag system would be ideal. Signs could be posted warning of the danger and "skate at your own risk". Let's not take everything away from our families just to protect them....what about parents and neighbors lending a hand ?
Gerry Iannuzzi February 14, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Please do not pass this. Ice skating is a fun activity that Bloomingdale residents should be free to enjoy when the opportunity exists with safe conditions. My children and I have skated on oakwood for the past several years. I can tell you the water there averages about 1 - 2 feet deep. I know because I have been out on that pond and you can see the bottom when the ice is clear. Has the mayor considered this? While the Budd Lake incident is a horrible tragedy, they were out on thin ice over deep water near a feeder stream, Ice that is 3-4 inches thick on shallow Oakwood is very safe. Two weeks ago, it was over 5 inches thick (we drilled a core) and several spots near the road side of the pond, it was frozen right through to the bottom. Certainly no danger there. While I agree, safety first, there needs to be a reasonable compromise here. I will volunteer to do a depth study on Bogue and Oakwood with my depth finder before a final ban is passed. Kids in this town should have the opportunity to enjoy ice skating outdoors.
Pete Stagg February 14, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Last year there were fatal car crashes on Rt 80. Based on this, the Bloomingdale Council will prohibit the driving of a car. Same logic. Pete Stagg
Ariana Cohn-Sheehan (Editor) February 14, 2013 at 03:54 PM
To clarify, Dunleavy did say the signs would likely say that since ice skating/activities are not monitored, it would be at the participant's risk.
Tim February 14, 2013 at 05:48 PM
You have to be kidding! OK Qakwood lake used to be a swimming lake back in the 50's And has a few places were the water is a few feet deep, (and the mud makes it even deeper) But still it's called life! People do risky things and at times pay a BIG heavy price. So are all things that are risky going to be outlawed? Like being alive!
Jon Dunleavy February 15, 2013 at 12:47 AM
I would like to thank everyone for your comments. Please understand that I and the Governing Body did not just decide to consider this ordinance without a recommendation from our Insurance Carrier. I would ask everyone who is for or against the ordinance to please come to Tuesday 2/19 7pm meeting as this will be the public hearing on the ordinance before it is considered for adoption. It is comments like these that I and the Governing Body need to hear at these public hearings. The policy in town has always been if the Police see people skating or get a call about people skating( which is about 5 times per year) they do go ask the people to stop because the ice in not monitored. The ordinance being considered is simply to support the policy that as always been in place. I do know the depths of our ponds are only 2-4 feet but a serious accident can still happen as a result of the ice not being monitored. The idea of having staff or recreation volunteers assume the responsibility of saying the ice is good or not , is not an option. By doing so you now put the liability completely on that person and the Borough. This is about educating people to be safe and protect the Borough from a large liability claim. It is sad we have to think this way but our society has become so litigious that such things must be considered. In no way do I or the governing body want to stop a fun activity for anyone to enjoy but it is all about the safety of our residents. see next post
Jon Dunleavy February 15, 2013 at 01:02 AM
I have requested a review by our Attorney of the ordinance to see if stating that the Borough does not condone skating nor monitor the ice, therefore Skating and all ice activities are completely at ones own risk. Additionally signs will be posted stating ice skating is prohibited as the "ice is not monitored" Skating, walking, fishing and sledding on the ice is at your own risk. This way we have educated the public and limited the Liability for the Borough. If this is allowable it would be suggested to the Governing Body who then can consider re introduction of the ordinance. As Meredith stated above banning behavior will not stop it, while this statement is true, the warning and protections for our residents and Borough must be put in place. I will assure you that our police will continue to advise and document with residents seen skating of the safety issue as the ice is not monitored. This way we may be able to achieve safety and protection for the Borough without taking away an activity that some residents enjoy and are willing to take full responsibility by doing so. Replys would be appreciated. Attendance at the meeting would be great. This is why there is a process of introducing the ordinance to get it public and then take public comment, preferably on the record at a meeting before any ordinance is adopted. Thank You, Mayor Jon Dunleavy
Rick February 15, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Regardless of the outcome – I am happy to see your efforts to informing the residences and allow for a fair process. See you -Tuesday 2/19 7pm.
Dad of 3 February 15, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Lets put this in the proper perspective. Budd lake is a lake not a 3 foot deep pond. I am concerned as to where this leads. If a kid in another town gets killed while riding his bike, will Bloomingdale ban bike riding in town? A boy from Wayne was killed while playing baseball on a town team. Is Bloomingdale going to ban baseball? Erick Lagrand was paralized from the neck down while playing football for Rutgers. Is Bloomingdale going to ban football? Are we going to ban large sodas? Where does it stop? Kids have been skating on ponds and lakes for over 100 years and now it is so dangerous that it is about to be banned in this town. Better not approve the river walk. Someone might trip and fall into the river and drown. Something to consider before we waste money on a project in a town that can't even afford to pave it's pot hole ridden roads.
Carolyn February 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM
This was apparently something recommended by our insurance company (not the Mayor) so there are considerations of liability as well as human safety. There is much for the Council to discuss and obviously costs involved in monitoring the ice and posting signs. To me it seems well worth paying to monitor the ice since this type of activity adds to the quality of life in our town. The liability question should be handled as advised by our attorney. This is a decision that will be made by the Council, not something imposed by the Mayor. It is a serious matter and input should be given at the public discussion part of the meeting, not in a forum that the Council members may or may not read. This isn't something that should be politicized. The analogy to driving a car doesn't work. Bloomingdale is responsible for safety on the pond--the State is responsible for automotive safety. The best solution would be to find a way to allow the skating while making sure it is safe.
Rick February 15, 2013 at 04:34 PM
This is a great opportunity for us to put something into our town and our counsel will need many opinions to make an informed decision. We should publicize this debate in as many public venues as possible to come up with the information that will be used to make an informed decision. This forum offers us a chance to see what opinions may be presented in the meeting giving each of us time to prepare. Example: Portable outdoor ice-rink may be a cost effective solution to high issuance costs due in part to the risk of drowning in deeper waters. If necessary a committee may need to be formed to gather details and make a recommendation. It seem clear from the comments here we are all interested in finding a solution to keeping ice-skating part of the beauty of Bloomingdale.
Gerry Iannuzzi February 17, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Thank you for all the comments. I am sincere with my offer to use my fish finder to do a depth study on both ponds this spring. I am hoping my children and I will be able to enjoy ice skating and pond hockey in the future. Typically, we get a few weeks each winter where conditions are good enough.
Doug Van Dyk February 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM
so biking on the town streets would bring the same liability..
Doug Van Dyk February 17, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Allright the auto analogy might not count,but how about riding your bike or walking down the street.
Brian Kwiatkowski February 20, 2013 at 10:45 PM
We as a country really need to do something to curb our litigious culture. I remember the old days when you could go to a friend's house, take a tumble down his stairs, bust up your chin, get laughed at, then haul your bloody chin and busted ego to the medicine cabinet to grab a band-aid. Today, you can tack on a cool million on top of that band-aid, at the expense of your friend, of course. Just the other day, I was walking in a supermarket parking lot and a lady backed into me with her car. I fell down, got up, shook it off, and continued on my merry way. Another woman, a couple spots down, says to me "ya know, if ya played your cards right, ya could have gotten a ton of cash for that." My response being, "no thanks, I'm a big boy, I can take a punch." It's people like this that destroy our freedoms, and our childrens' ice skating privileges. Just ridiculous...

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