<&firstgraph>If you ask kids what they enjoy about summer, there’s a good chance they’ll say spending (a majority of their) time swimming in the pool.
<&firstgraph>However, the uncertainty of how long the novel coronavirus will be around is creating a series of issues for city officials and pool managers to jump through when it comes to opening city pools. As of last week, local leaders have still not received any guidance from Gov. Tim Walz or the Minnesota Department of Health on whether pools will be able to open for the upcoming season.
<&firstgraph>While numerous cities have decided to close their swimming pools for the 2020 season, Kenyon and Wanamingo officials remain optimistic that the pools will open sometime during the summer.
<&firstgraph>At a special meeting held May 5, Kenyon City Administrator Mark Vahlsing updated the council on the opening of the pool for 2020 season. He said he was coordinating the status of opening with the pool manager and public works director.
<&firstgraph>“Most communities in the area were in a holding pattern but also were moving ahead planning for opening in early June,” said Vahlsing.
<&firstgraph>All communities are also watching the state to see if they would be allowed to open on time, said Vahlsing.
<&firstgraph>“It is possible the opening of the pool may be delayed or ultimately canceled,” said Vahlsing at the meeting. “But it was the hope of city staff that the pool would be allowed to open in some form this season.”
<&firstgraph>Public Works Director Wayne Ehrich said his department would need two weeks to have the pool ready for opening.
<&firstgraph>Councilmen Dan Rechtzigel said he hoped pools will be allowed to open, since there are many children at home in the city who like to use the pool in the summer.
<&firstgraph>Mayor Doug Henke also hoped the pool would be allowed to open this year.
<&firstgraph>Following a May 12 Kenyon City Council meeting, the council voted to approve the tentative hiring of Municipal Swimming Pool employees, pending the opening of the pool.
Getting ready in Wanamingo
<&firstgraph>In Wanamingo, city staff have started preparing the pool for the upcoming season, which includes updates to the chemical room required by the Minnesota Department of Health, a new sump pump that relieves pressure underground on the exterior concrete of the pool, and the replacement of the pump lines running along the east side of the fence.
<&firstgraph>“Regardless of opening the pool on time we plan to get it up and running,” wrote City Administrator Michael Boulton in a memo to the council.
<&firstgraph>In order to get the pool up and running, Boulton said the staff will need to conduct general maintenance, get the interior pump house equipment ready, hang new signs, put out the kiddie pool canopy, install the pool ladders, check lights, install covers/drains, acid pressure wash the pool and kiddie pool, paint the interior of the pool, fill both pools with water and turn on the pumps by May 29. Chemically treating the pool will make the water safe and give it the clear-blue tint.
<&firstgraph>Staff recommended that there be no swimming lessons offered in 2020, to refrain from physical contact between lifeguards and swimmers, however private lessons could be offered to ensure kids’ safety in the pool. The hours of operation will likely stay the same as last year from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Private pool parties will remain available, pending lifeguard availability, as well as the water aerobics classes.
<&firstgraph>“Since we do not know when or if the pool will open, city staff do not plan on having a formal registration sign up for parents and patrons,” wrote Boulton in a memo to the council.
<&firstgraph>Pending the opening of the pool, all registration will take place at the swimming pool for passes. Discount passes will need to be discussed if the pool is not able to open on time. Staff anticipate a moderate decrease in swimming lesson registrations and pool pass sales as a result of COIVD-19.
<&firstgraph>“It will probably be a shortened season for sure,” Boulton said at the meeting. “I doubt we’ll be open for June 1, but we’ll try to aim for that.”
<&firstgraph>One of the Wanamingo Pool assistant managers, Julie Steberg, attended the council meeting to provide input on the tentative plans.
<&firstgraph>“We can’t get through all the hoops yet,” said Steberg. “… We want it to be a fun place for [kids] to come, they’ve got to have something.”
<&firstgraph>While Steberg wasn’t so concerned about the pool itself due to the chlorine used to keep the pools free of bacteria, the locker rooms seemed to be a greater threat. Some options she suggested for bypassing that threat were offering tubs for patrons to place their clothes/items in, which would leave the locker rooms open strictly for bathroom use. She also brought up pool workers doing more thorough cleaning, for example using a bleach-water solution to spray down the toilets, sinks and showers more frequently.
<&firstgraph>The Wanamingo City Council voted to approve the swimming pool fees and schedule for the 2020 season as presented, as well as the 2020 swimming pool staff roster, pending the pool’s opening.