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Towns wrestle with whether to open their public pools this summer

Here's one that is, another that won't
Franklin aquatic.PNG
Posted at 11:19 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 23:19:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An announcement from the City of Indianapolis is expected Friday about the status of public pools this summer. Will they be open or closed?

That is the same question cities and towns across the state are wrestling with, and not always coming up with the same answer.

In Johnson County, the Franklin Aquatic Center, which features an outside pool, will be open. The announcement was made Wednesday. But in Bloomington, the two public pools will remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Chip Orner, is Franklin's Director of Parks and Recreation. "We’ve spent weeks combing over CDC guidelines, state executive orders as well as guidance from the Indiana State Department of Health recommendations to make an informed decision on whether to open the Franklin Family Aquatic Center this summer," he said. The decision to open was based on several factors:

  • Social / physical distancing. No more than 600 people will be allowed at any time, about half normal capacity. Groups can have no more than 25 people. There will be more space in the concessions area and in the water slide and diving boards waiting areas.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing: All 250 lounge chairs on the pool deck were eliminated for 2020, but guests can bring their own folding chairs. Additional cleaning staff has been hired and hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Informed guests: The pool has created additional signage informing guests about hand washing and other CDC recommendations. There are signs warning about the danger of contracting COVID-19 if you use the aquatic center.

The Franklin Aquatic Center will open July 4.

But in Bloomington, the city's two pools will remain closed this summer. Numerous factors contributed to the decision, according to Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department Administrator Paula McDevitt.

Social distancing would be difficult at the pools, as would following CDC and Monroe County Health Department guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Finding properly trained lifeguards was a concern.

"We have been managing the effects of COVID-19 in every facet of our Parks and Recreation Department's programs, events and facilities since early March," said McDevitt. "Even then, we started planning in the hopes of opening two of our city's most popular summer destinations: Bryan Park Pool and Mills Pool. After consulting with our state and national associations, and researching public health recommendations, we came to the difficult conclusion that, in the grand scheme of our responsibilities, keeping the pools closed is the right decision for the community.”

It's not all bad news, however. "While we are disappointed to have to keep our outdoor pools closed this season, we are excited to announce that the new spray pad at Switchyard Park is slated to open later in June," McDevitt said.

The spray pad at Switchyard Park, located near the Pavilion at 1601 S. Rogers St., is a system of nearly 90 nozzles and misters that spray water into the air. Visitors of all abilities may interact with the water streams as they choose. The water in the chlorinated system is treated just as it is in swimming pools.