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Woodbridge on the lookout for abandoned pools

WOODBRIDGE — As the summer season brings hot weather to the Garden State, township officials are combating potential mosquito (Zika) breeding areas in the township with the return of a public health abandoned property initiative — removal of abandoned or neglected swimming pools.

On June 1, Mayor John E. McCormac met with Township Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Public Works (DPW) officials at a removal of an abandoned above-ground swimming pool on Green Street.

“The economic climate of the past several years has resulted in the unfortunate increase in foreclosure actions with a resulting uptick in abandoned and/or vacant properties in many of our residential neighborhoods,” Mayor John E. McCormac said. “Beyond lowering the value of neighboring homes, abandoned and distressed properties cause significant losses in property tax revenue, generate other economic costs for the Township and represent a real safety issue.”

In addition, the mayor said many properties have abandoned swimming pools and other areas that are prime breeding areas for mosquitoes.

“The Township is taking a pro-active approach and is moving to eliminate any/all potential mosquito breeding areas on all abandoned properties,” McCormac said.

As part of the Public Health Abandoned Property Initiative, township officials will identify abandoned and/or neglected swimming pools and will undertake the removal of the swimming pools as part of a township-wide public health and safety campaign to identify and eliminate potential areas for mosquito (Zika) breeding.

Since the re-invigoration of the initiative, the DPW and the Department of Health and Human Services has identified and removed more than 33 abandoned swimming pools — the Township has demolished 18 abandoned swimming pools and individual property owners have (after being notified) removed more than 15.

The DPW undertakes demolition after draining the pool(s) and the stagnant pool water is pumped into a DPW container truck for disposal at the Woodbridge sewer treatment facility. The pool is then demolished and the area is cleaned and graded.

The Department of Health and Human Services, in concert with the Middlesex County Mosquito Control Commission, embarks on a public awareness campaign each spring to enlist the assistance of Township residents to attack and eliminate potential mosquito breeding areas.

The key to reducing mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the population before the larvae hatch, according to the Middlesex County Mosquito Control Commission.

There are a number of ways to reduce the mosquito population, which include checking properties for standing water, clean clogged rain gutters and discard any items that may collect water. Pool owners are encouraged to run the pool filter to keep water aerated and to treat pool water with appropriate chemicals.

Township residents are encouraged to report vacant/abandoned properties or property maintenance and housing violations that negatively impact neighborhoods to the Public Works Hotline at 732-726-2325. All complaints will be investigated and all information will remain confidential.

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