Elizabeth Makes a Splash

By Elizabeth Bell


There is something special about jumping into a nice, cold pool during an especially hot day. And if there is one community that feels the heat this time of year, it’s the densely populated City of Elizabeth, NJ. The Erxleben Recreation Complex is one of the few pools the City has for relaxation and amusement. At 30 years old, this pool was in need of some serious upgrades, and in 2013, it had a mechanical failure that inevitably shut it down. Understanding the importance of a safe and accessible environment for parks and recreation in this neighborhood, the City made the decision to restore this long-time, recreational hot spot.

Because it’s one of the few parks in the community, ensuring it could meet everyone’s needs was essential. So the main goal for our engineers was to design a complex with increased accessibility and longevity.  Additionally, the cost burden of upkeep had to be greatly reduced.

Our engineers chose materials that would keep the maintenance costs low. A surge tank was utilized to store displaced water, conserve water and replenish the pool when needed. An ultraviolet ray system was incorporated to subdue the growth of bacteria, viruses and protozoa which improves water clarity and lessens the need for chlorine. A four-stage filtration system was utilized to thoroughly filter water, decreasing contaminants and reducing upkeep. Adjustments were made to the placement and installation of the mechanical hardware to prevent backflow and make maintenance more accessible. Variable speed pumps were chosen to automatically change the motor speed depending on conditions. These adjustments further decrease constant maintenance and enable repairs to be made quickly and easily. A fully recessed stainless steel continuous flow perimeter gutter was installed as it is one of the best methods of surface cleaning while remaining aesthetically pleasing. However, the implementation of this gutter conflicted with the new beach entrance as it was set inside the pool wall. Once it wrapped around to the beach entrance, it required a bit of ingenuity from our engineers as it had to be further customized to run across the ground to meet the other side. All of these individual efforts created a much more self-maintaining pool than its predecessor.


Focusing on safety, the new design brought the complex up to code by solving compliance issues including depth markings and handicap accessibility. A cost effective beach entrance with a low incline was incorporated to be aesthetically pleasing and accommodate those with physical disabilities as well as senior citizens. To further assist in entering and exiting the pool, railings were incorporated to provide additional support on one side of the beach entrance. Despite the relatively small project site, the addition of kiddie and traditional pools, water-play structures, shower towers and shade structures have granted this community a place where all ages can come together.


All of the amenities surrounding the pool also had to be upgraded or replaced, including sanitary sewer, water and electrical utilities; doors, gates and fences; depth markings and placement; mechanical equipment and storage buildings. While other municipalities have resorted to replacing costly pools with more affordable water spray parks, the City of Elizabeth went above and beyond to reinvest in its community. The complex’s new amenities implemented accessibility and amusement for everyone while putting to rest prior fears of long closures due to mechanical failures. The new pool complex greatly reduces the cost burden on the City and grants the community a recreational spot for family and friends to gather. Unrecognizable from its former self, the new pool is twice the size of the original and will provide enjoyment for this community for years to come.

Check out its amazing transformation in the video below!


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