Q: Last year my husband and I bought a semi-detached condo in Jersey City after living in New York City for 32 years. Our back windows overlook our neighbor’s backyard which has an above ground pool filled with dirty water. When we arrived last August the pool was bright blue and inviting. But now the water is a stagnant eyesore. We are concerned, as are our downstairs neighbors, that mosquitoes breed there. As summer is approaching we would like to clean the pool. But how should we proceed? Is it pushy to address the owners? Is there an agency we could call to intervene?
A: Last fall, the owners should have winterized the pool, treating the water with chemicals, removing equipment, and covering the top for the season. Some owners drain the water in an above ground pool, but it should by no means be neglected and exposed. Animals could drown or build nests, leaves or dirt could cause damage.
“When it gets warmer, they want to clean that up right away because bugs and nasty critters start to fester,” said Evelyn Schubert, a customer service rep at Creative Master Pools in Lincoln Park, NJ, who has a pool at her house that’s currently treating and is covered. “If we were to look in now, the water should be clear. In a year something died. We had to completely empty the water, brush it, clean it, treat it.”
From your observations last summer the pool is in use and may be cleaned in the coming weeks before summer. According to Ms. Schubert, homeowners typically open their pools in early April.
You could wait a few more weeks and see what happens. But now you might want to introduce yourself to your new neighbors and ask them what their plans are for the pool. Frame the conversation in a positive light. Tell them you noticed when you moved in that the water looked so inviting. Are you planning to open the pool this season as well? Depending on how the conversation goes, you could raise your concerns about animal safety, mosquitoes, aesthetics, and suggest covering the water in winter.
When If you can’t persuade your neighbor to improve conditions, you can report the state of Jersey City, especially if an animal is caught in the water or if the weather gets warmer and the pool is neglected. You can file a complaint online through the city’s online portal or by calling the Resident Response Center at (201) 547-4900. You might get more attention if your downstairs neighbors who are also concerned also call.
But before you report the owners, remember that you are new to the neighborhood and this is the start of what could be a long relationship. Perhaps you don’t want to alienate your new neighbors in the first year of your arrival. You might want to give him a little time and see how they take care of the pool in the future.
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