Hopewell Township Committee hears from Quarry swim club

Photo courtesy of Hopewellquarry.org

Hopewell Quarry

A year after a local group purchased and re-opened the Hopewell Quarry swim club, its leaders reported to the Hopewell Township Committee December 5 that deferred maintenance and prior neglect have created a substantial financial burden.

The estimate for capital projects exceeds $500,000, including building repairs, a septic upgrade, major bathroom repairs, access for the disabled, and resurfacing the children’s pool. 

“We’ve invested $1 million so far, more than half of that from community members,” said Scot Pannepacker, board chair of Friends of Hopewell Quarry. “We believe user fees will sustain us going forward, after dealing with the deferred maintenance issues.”

The presentation came a week ahead of the start of the Township’s annual budget process, which began December 11 with a meeting to consider the capital budget, which funds infrastructure.

“[The Quarry is] a treasure in the Township and we hope to be able to find some ways to help,” Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said. “We wanted to make sure you had a chance to be heard before the Committee.”

While Peters-Manning stopped short of promising assistance, the Township Committee was receptive to the financial issues confronting the area’s only non-membership swimming club.

The Quarry was purchased in August 2021 by Friends of Hopewell Quarry (with the help of Green Acres funds) from the Grypton family, who owned and operated the Quarry as a private club for 30 years. This past summer, it sold 500 season passes and 500 days passes, along with hosting 1,700 day campers “8,000+ day passes (8,189 to be exact!), with over 10,000 total visits from Memorial Day to Labor Day for 2022”, according to Pannepacker.**

“It’s place for everyone that embraces the community and improved the quality of life,” Pannepacker said.

The Quarry is a seven-acre site with a 30-foot deep, one-acre pond fed by a natural spring created after it was abandoned as a mining operation in the 1920s.

The priority for Friends of Hopewell Quarry, a 501c3 organization, is to maintain the “old-fashioned feel and the safety” of the Quarry, Pannepack said. The group also would like to connect with the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and the Watershed Institute, as well as create recreational and camp opportunities for underserved* communities.

Speed study on East Welling

In other business, Police Chief James Rosso reported that a speed study on East Welling Avenue showed no major traffic issues. 

Using a camouflaged monitor for 10 days in October, 85% of the 1,200 vehicles were clocked traveling at 27 mph or less. The speed limit on the road is 25 mph. 

The department conducted the study at the request of residents who advocated for building sidewalks to make the road safer for pedestrians, especially children walking to school. Rosso said the findings show speed mitigation measures aren’t warranted.

Hopewell Lights up the Holidays

December 5 also found Hopewell Township marking the holiday season with a celebration of light and song.

An official holiday tree lighting ceremony followed a serenade by Bear Tavern Elementary School’s a cappella group, the Treble Makers; a celebration of the HVCHS football team’s record-setting 10-1 season; and a display of luminaries as part of a formal proclamation recognizing Womanspace and its Communities of Light project.

“With the days getting shorter, it’s so great to be here celebrating light and love and community,” Peters-Manning told the crowd gathered on the chilly night.

The display of luminaries — candle-lit paper bags — in towns across Mercer County has been a mainstay of fundraising for Womanspace, which was founded to provide comfort, support services, crisis intervention and safety to women who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

Womanspace, founded in 1977, has assisted 110,143 woman, 16, 442 children and 7,567 men the past 45 years in addition to 308,446 calls to its hotline. 

The display of lights is a major fundraiser for Womanspace each year, as households purchased luminaries to display along driveways and sidewalks starting at dusk on Monday as a visible symbol of support for Womanspace’s belief that peace begins at home. 

The Township Committee’s next scheduled regular meeting is December 19.

*Edited 12/15 at 9:37am to correct typographical error. Thanks Sarah Ohls for noticing!

**Edited 12/16 at 11:26 per FB comment from Scot Pannepacker, who also commented: ” I would state that the capital improvements are items that we identified in our pre-purchase due diligence. The Friends of Hopewell Quarry are fundraising for these repairs and upgrades, and we have asked Hopewell Township for support to supplement generous (and ongoing) private donations from the community. These funds will ensure the public can enjoy and swim in this amazing preserved open park space for years to come. The municipal support helps defray capital costs and allow the Friends to provide more amenities in a shorter time frame.

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