Two summer hot spots will not open this summer, despite Rock County’s plan for phased reopening after the safer-at-home order.
Rockport Pool and the wading pool at Palmer Park will remain closed throughout the normal pool season, according to a city news release.
City staff believe this is in the best interest for the public’s health as the novel coronavirus continues to circulate through the community, said Shelly Slapak, recreation director.
It is difficult to enforce in pools recommended safety measures such as social distancing and mask wearing, Slapak said.
Staffing the pool also was a concern, Slapak said.
Some lifeguards had not finished their certifications, which is normally done through the school district, because schools have been shut down, Slapak said.
If a COVID-19 outbreak happened among pool staff, it would be difficult to staff the facilities, Slapak said.
“We felt that given the timing and everything it was the right thing to do,” Slapak said. “... It is disappointing.”
Postponing the pool season would have been difficult because of how short the season is, Slapak said.
Other city aquatic facilities such as Lions Beach, the Riverside Park splash pad and The Bubbler downtown are under consideration for reopening at some point this summer, Slapak said.
Opening those facilities could alleviate concerns about keeping people cool during the summer, especially people whose housing might not offer air conditioning or other options to stay cool, Slapak said.
“Hopefully it will be a cold summer,” Slapak said with a chuckle.
It is difficult to predict whether the closure of the aquatic facilities will save the city money, Slapak said.
The pools cannot remain idle throughout the summer. Staff will have to run some water and chemicals through to keep the pools in good shape. There will also be costs for maintenance and equipment, Slapak said.
Meanwhile, the city will miss out on revenue from pool admission.
The recreation division will work on ways to promote healthy outdoor water activities people can do at home, Slapak said.
You don’t need a pool to stay cool, Slapak said. There are items you can buy at the dollar store to keep yourself and your kids entertained this summer.