Bexley pool to reopen this summer with safety protocols
After being closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the David H. Madison Community Pool in Bexley will reopen this summer with safety regulations from state and local health agencies.
Recreation and Parks Director Mike Price said the driving factor behind the decision to reopen the pool is guidance from Franklin County Public Health has changed from spring 2020 when the county agency recommended pools stay closed for the season.
“We don’t anticipate getting that sort of guidance from Franklin County this year, although anything could change, as we’ve learned over the last year and a half,” Price said at the March 3 meeting of the city’s recreation board.
Price and Deputy Director Natalie Mullin said the department is proceeding with plans for SwimSafe Pool Management from Loveland, Ohio, to run the pool. In January, the recreation board and City Council authorized the department to award a $185,000 contract to SwimSafe to oversee the pool’s operations.
“One of the things that is really nice with having SwimSafe on board is they did operate pools (in other communities) last year under these COVID guidelines,” Price said. “They have a lot of experience with that. They brought a lot of ideas and concepts to the table for us.”
Mullin said she recently met with health officials and pool operators around central Ohio to discuss safety guidelines. She said the department is working off the Ohio Department of Public Health guidelines that were last updated in late July 2020.
“We’re going to be educating our community as best as we can as to these … policies,” Mullin said. “We’re going to have the visuals, we’re going to have the literature for you to know and understand what’s going to keep you safe and what’s going to keep everyone else safe.”
The guidelines for the 2021 pool season, which Price and Mullin said may be revised or updated in the future, are as follows:
• Pool admission will require patrons to register online in advance for 90-minute time slots at $5 per person.
• Individuals and families may register up to two days in advance and each party will be limited to one time slot per day.
• Masks must be worn when not in the water.
• Patrons who are not in the same group must maintain 6 feet of distance.
• A limit of 10 people will be allowed to gather in the same space when not in the water.
• Lounge chairs around the pool will be spaced to accommodate social distancing; patrons can also bring in their own chairs.
• Swim lessons will be offered, but the usual six weeks of classes may be spread out over 10 weeks to minimize contact.
There will be a 30-minute cleaning period between each 90-minute time slot each day, Mullin said.
“High-touch surfaces are what’s going to be cleaned every two hours,” she said.
The department will not make a final decision until May about whether to offer pool memberships because of the daily registration requirements for admission, Price said. And it’s likely, he added, that the pool will grant admission only to Bexley residents and their guests. In addition no date has been set to open the pool season.
“We’re basing our knowledge on what we know right now,” Price said. “We have some contingency plans that we’ll continue to develop. I fully expect things to change in the next three to four months as vaccines continue to get rolled out. I don’t know what that means in terms of what the Ohio Department of Health orders are, relative to pools.”
Currently, 131 is the recommended maximum capacity for the pool, based on the facility’s square footage; that number may increase if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allow for more capacity as more of the population gets vaccinated, Price said.
“We want to start having conversations with the community,” he said. “I’ve been asked, ‘What’s going on with the pool?’ As the weather turns, it becomes a more interesting topic.”
Price and Mullin said an update about the pool reopening will be included in the department’s summer activities brochure, which is scheduled to be mailed April 12. For information, visit bexley.org/recreation.