Pickerington officials pleased with 2020 pool season
After a delayed start and numerous changes forced by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Pickerington officials say the decision to open the municipal swimming pool this year was a good one.
Because of state-mandated restrictions related to coronavirus public-health and safety concerns, the Pickerington Community Pool did not open until open June 15.
Although that was roughly three weeks after the pool's traditional Memorial Day weekend opening date, several central Ohio communities had kept their public pools closed all summer; they included Bexley, Canal Winchester, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Groveport, Hilliard and Westerville.
When it was announced Pickerington's pool would open, city officials hoped the move would provide "a little bit of normalcy this summer," Mayor Lee Gray said.
Now, with the final day of swimming slated for Sept. 7, Gray said, he was glad the city took the route it did.
"The decision to open the pool was the right one," he said. "We were able to open and run it safely all summer thanks to a good game plan and the hard work of our pool staff.
"The people that wanted to visit were able to do so, and I'm proud that we provided a form of recreation to our residents that other communities did not."
Pages from Pickerington's 2020 pool playbook included scrapping season passes, opting instead to make visitors purchase three-hour blocks of swim time and capping the total number of guests during those slots at 125 to help patrons maintain social distancing.
Additionally, pool-deck furniture was removed, and the pool was closed for 30 minutes between blocks of swim times to enable staff members to sanitize the facilities.
Through Aug. 16, 12,815 day passes were sold at the pool, an average of 203 swimmers per day, Pickerington parks and recreation director Becca Medinger said.
That compared to a daily average of 377 swimmers in 2019, when no social-distancing standards were in place.
Like Gray, Medinger said, she believes the city acted prudently in opening the pool. She described the season, overall, as "great," adding the community needed "a safe environment to enjoy one of their favorite summer activities."
Additionally, she said, the pool this summer provided jobs to 25 seasonal workers.
"We were able to provide a safe environment while meeting all the guidelines through thorough cleaning every hour, deep cleaning between each session, as well as additional staff trainings and educating the community on the new protocols (and) changes that were implemented in order to open," Medinger said.
The decision could cause the city to dip into operating coffers to cover the loss of revenue brought on by the abbreviated swim season and changes to pass sales and swim times. Typically, the pool is self-sustaining, in that its operations are paid for from revenue it generates, she said.
"We won't know if the general fund will have to supplement this year until we close out the figures for the season," Medinger said.
Patrons' opportunities to swim at the Pickerington Community Pool are winding down in conjunction with the end of summer.
The pool began operating on weekends only Aug. 17.
Sept. 7 is the final day of the pool's 2020 season. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Regardless of how the final numbers play out, Gray reiterated his support of the decision to operate the pool this year.
He said it was reflective of how the city has tried to maintain business and public-health and safety protocols the past five to six months.
"The city's philosophy from the beginning of this pandemic has been to evaluate and offer as much as we're able to, while still following the guidelines set by the governor," Gray said.