‘A delayed opening at best’: Community pools weigh options on reopening for summer season

Sun Prairie Family Aquatic Center to be closed all summer

MONONA, Wis. – Despite the state beginning to reopen, the summer season will look different this year.

Dane County’s newly announced phased approach to allowing spaces to reopen will permit licensed swimming pools to open up at reduced capacity in Phase One, which could begin next week.

The Sun Prairie Common Council voted Tuesday night to keep the Sun Prairie Family Aquatic Center closed for the 2020 summer season, according to Kristin Grissom, director of Parks, Recreation & Forestry.

The City of Monona is still deciding whether to open its community pool and what that would look like.

This time of year, the Monona Community Pool is usually full of water. Instead, this upcoming season is full of questions.

“It’s the heartbeat of Monona,” said Jake Anderson, Parks and Recreation director with the city. He said he’s been fielding plenty of questions on whether the city’s pool will open.

“Multiple emails a day, social media messages, private messages, text messages from friends,” he said. “I think it’s on everyone’s minds.”

Waiting for word from health officials on if and how they would be able to reopen has pushed back usual preparations, “which will mean a delayed opening at best at this point,” said Anderson.

The Forward Dane plan, announced Monday, gives pools the go ahead to open at 25% capacity in Phase One

“I think a plan can now be formulated for what a plan could look like,” Anderson said.

He said once the water’s in the pool, that’s not the issue.

“Being in the pool and actually the chlorinated water is very effective against the coronavirus,” Anderson said. “It’s the time people get here in their vehicles, on the pool deck that aren’t swimming and engaging with potential staff or other patrons is where I think we have the challenge.”

Challenges include limiting capacity and ensuring social distancing. At this point, Anderson said chair rentals, prepaid daily admissions or a first-come-first-serve system are all on the table.

Another consideration is financial.

“We may take on a greater loss than we would in a normal year,” Anderson said, adding that that must be weighed against other factors.

“We’re also seeing a real need for people to get out and exercise and enjoy, and I think given some of the comparable loosening of restrictions across the state, I think we can do it safely,” Anderson said.

The earliest the Monona Community Pool would open is late June or early July, according to Anderson.

He said he’s paying attention to decisions in other area cities. While the Sun Prairie Common Council decided to keep the city’s pool closed for the season, plans to potentially reopen the Columbus Area Aquatic System still have to go before the City Council.

While Madison’s Splash Parks typically open Memorial Day weekend, they will stay closed this weekend. News 3 Now hasn’t heard back about the city’s plans for Goodman Pool.