Q: Last year, my husband and I bought a condo in a duplex building in Jersey City, after living in New York City for 32 years. Our rear windows overlook our neighbor’s backyard, which has an aboveground pool filled with filthy 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 are breeding there. With summer approaching, we would love for the pool to be cleaned. But how should we proceed? Is it pushy to approach 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 aboveground pool, but it certainly shouldn’t be neglected and exposed. Animals could drown or build nests, and leaves or dirt could cause damage.
“As things warm up, they would want to clean that up right away because bugs and nasty critters will start festering,” said Evelyn Schubert, a customer service representative at Creative Master Pools, in Lincoln Park, N.J., who has a pool at her house that is currently treated and covered. “If we were to look in that now, the water should be clear. One year we did have something die. We had to empty the water completely, brush it, clean it, treat it.”
From your observations last summer, it sounds like the pool is in use, and may very well be cleaned in the coming weeks ahead of summer. Homeowners generally start opening their pools in early April, according to Ms. Schubert.
You could wait a few more weeks and see what happens. But, you might want to introduce yourself to your new neighbors now, and ask them what their plans are for the pool. Frame the conversation in a positive light. Tell them that when you first moved in, you noticed that the water looked so inviting. Do they plan to open the pool this season, too? Depending on how the conversation goes, you could express your concerns about animal safety, mosquitoes and aesthetics, and suggest they cover the water during the winter.
If you are unable to persuade your neighbor to improve conditions, you could report the condition to Jersey City, particularly if an animal gets trapped in the water or if the weather warms and the pool remains neglected. You could file a complaint online through the city’s online portal or contact the Resident Response Center by calling (201) 547-4900. You might get more attention if your downstairs neighbors, who also are concerned, call as well.
But before you report the owners, keep in mind that you are new to the neighborhood, and this is the beginning of what might be a long relationship. You might not want to alienate your new neighbors the first year you arrive. You might want to give it a little time and see how they care for the pool going forward.
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