Opening of Upper Arlington pools makes big splash for residents

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
Connor Kreps, 10, of Upper Arlington dives into the water June 16 at the Tremont Pool. The city opened the pool with a modified schedule and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The city also opened Devon Pool, but the Reed Road Water Park will remain closed.

Following new rules and restrictions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Upper Arlington residents have been taking advantage of the recent opening of two of the city's public swimming pools.

The Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department opened Tremont Pool on June 12 and Devon Pool on June 15.

At this point, city officials don't plan to open Reed Road Water Park. That's in part due to the up to $200,000 in deficit costs the city expects to absorb to operate the other two pools on a shortened season and with attendance caps in place.

But on June 17, those who turned out for the noon-to-2 p.m. block of swimming time were just happy to have access to Tremont Pool.

"I'm really glad that Upper Arlington opened the pools," said Amy Meyer, who watched as her daughters, Lucille, 11, and Maggie, 9, swam with friends. "I think it's great for the kids to get an opportunity to swim and have fun this summer."

In addition to requiring people to reserve day passes before arriving, the city removed pool furniture to help people maintain 6-footdistancing. Access to locker amenities also is restricted.

"I think all the things they put in place are great, and people are being safe about being outside," Meyer said.

Lucille Meyer said it was her second trip to Tremont since it opened.

"I really like having the pool open because it's really fun to swim. I really like swimming with my friends and going off the diving board."

Debbie McLaughlin, parks and recreation director, said opening days were the best for both pools. Tremont had 468 reservations on June 12 and is averaging 313 guests through June 17. Devon had 189 on its first day and averaged 150 in its first three days.

According to statistics McLaughlin provided, Tremont was averaging 313 guests per day, and Devon was averaging 150.

"We are seeing that customers are grateful that the pools are open even in a modified structure," she said. "Customers went out of their way to thank us, and staff saw children dancing as they entered the gate. I am very proud of our team of employees that put forth the effort to develop and implement our plan."

Admission is available only to Upper Arlington residents, and the cost for a two-hour session is $7, with 100 patrons allowed each session.

The number of staff at each pool has increased by 15 this year, with those staffers assigned with keeping an eye on patrons to help maintain distancing.

"As it is early in the season, we have made a few adjustments," McLaughlin said. "We are adding morning water-walking at Tremont Pool that will take place along with lap swimming. This would be for a limited number of people registering for a 30-minute session.

"We are consolidating the 7-to-9 p.m. sessions to one pool."

McLaughlin said once temperatures rise and officials get a better picture of what attendance will be like, they'll decide if both pools should remain open at the same time.

"Devon Pool opened this week, and the first session, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is reserved for adults only Monday through Friday," she said. "We will make efforts to market this opportunity."

Parents at Tremont on June 17 said they didn't have any issues purchasing day passes at upperarlingtonoh.gov/parks-recreation/aquatics/.

Among them was Sarah Schweisthal, who lounged in the shade while her 8-year-old son, Luke, swam and her 16-year-old daughter, Anna, worked as a lifeguard.

Schweisthal said she was "definitely" comfortable with the pandemic-related precautions the city was requiring, and she was glad to retain a bit of summer normalcy.

"We came on opening day, too, and we're really happy the pools are open," Schweisthal said. "We usually join every summer. Our first day, it felt really good to be back. It felt like a piece of summer."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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