The Jeffersonville pool will not open this season in efforts to maintain safety and finances as well as follow state and local recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Jeffersonville Mayor Bob Kinzer and Jefferson Village Administrator Bryan Riley, the decision to close the pool was not made lightly and was made following careful consideration. They explained that they discussed the decision with different officials including local health experts and their financial advisor.
“We’ve been thinking about this ever since this virus hit,” said Kinzer. “The pool is very important to the village.”
The pool, according to Kinzer, averages approximately 9,000 people per year who are not only from Fayette County but surrounding counties. Due to the number of visitors, and with several of those visitors being children, maintaining social distancing would be difficult.
“How are you going to monitor — first of all, the number of people you let in. Second, six-foot distancing. You can’t do it. They’re kids,” said Riley.
Another point of safety for a pool is having the required number of life guards for swimmers. Life guards aren’t the easiest positions to fill and once filled, require certification. According to Riley and Kinzer, last year, two council members transported the teenagers to certification classes as many of them did not have licenses yet. Those certification classes are even more scarce with the current pandemic.
The pool also needs a manager to run efficiently. As both the manager and life guard positions are part-time summer jobs, the potential employees needed to know whether to search for other employment for the season sooner rather than later.
The financial situation of the employees weren’t the only concern as the village has a certain amount in the budget to run the pool each year. Riley explained that they typically manage to break just about even, sometimes less, with the cost to maintain and operate the pool versus the revenue that comes in from the pool, as it’s not there to be a “money-maker.”
Typically, Riley would start getting the pool ready to open on May 1. Getting the pool ready includes filling it with 200,000 gallons of treated water which takes approximately 10 days.
“We didn’t want to put that expense into it, and then not be able to open at all,” said Riley. “We’re a small village, and we just can’t afford to put that kind of money in to get it up, and then not operate it for the summer.”
The typical swim season for the pool is 12 weeks, and it takes three-to-four weeks to get the pool operational. This would mean that even if the pool would be allowed to open at the end of May and not have the closure extended, it wouldn’t be able to open until mid-to-late June, which would cut the swim season considerably and would make balancing the budget more difficult.
“We’re hearing other municipalities — Hilliard, Cincinnati, they’re not going to open their pools,” explained Kinzer. “So, we’re not the only ones, but we understand that for people in the village — we’re the only one. Most of them walk to (the local pool). It’s very important to them, it’s very important to all of us.”
Although the pool will remain closed this season, Riley and Kinzer explained the pool will not simply sit as it is an opportunity to get maintenance done. This includes using a Nature Works Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to redo the high-dive — concrete, pedestal and all. The grant is worth approximately $22,000 and the village has to match 25 percent of it.
Another maintenance project they will be working on is cutting out and repairing the drain in the deep (12-foot) end of the pool, which sits down in the concrete. Regular maintenance can also be done earlier than expected, such as painting the pool, which costs about $6,000 but is important for sealing the concrete.
“Our first concern was the welfare of the residents, and then the financial responsibility, and then the burden it would be on the village if we did go through all the steps and then still not be able to open,” said Riley.
“I understand people’s concerns, I really do. I have grand-kids that want to go over there and (Riley’s) got a son that wants to go over there,” said Kinzer. “But safety is our top priority.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.