MONROE, CT — Parks and Recreation Director Missy Orosz came up with a plan to open the Wolfe Park pool this season, despite social distancing guidelines meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Visitors will pay online in advance to be among the 70 people permitted to use the facilities in a three hour session. Wrist bands will be issued for each session.
“We worked tirelessly to come up with a game plan to keep the pool open, because it is an asset to our community,” Orosz said.
The Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved a fee schedule during a virtual meeting Wednesday night. The fees now have to come before the Town Council for its approval.
First Selectman Ken Kellogg said Orosz worked closely with him and the town’s emergency management team to come up with the recommendation. Orosz said she also spoke to other parks and recreation directors in the area.
“I’m pleased Missy found a way to open the pool this year,” Kellogg said, adding, if asked earlier in the year, he would have said it could not happen.
The proposed fees are $5 for adults (age 18 to 59), $4 per child (age 3 to 17), free for children age 2 and younger, and $3 for seniors (age 60 and older).
Kellogg said a seasonal pool pass concept did not seem fair because, due to limited capacity, users could not be assured they could use their pass every day. So Orosz opted for time slots with nominal fees. Kellogg said the fees are meant to offset expenses and town officials want people to see the rates as “affordable and reasonable.”
Patricia Tomchik, a commissioner, asked if the pool will be used by Monroe residents only.
While there would be nothing in place barring out-of-towners from using the pool, Kellogg said his local directive restricting parking to those with valid park stickers and town taxpayers will remain in place.
Tentatively, pool hours would be broken up into three sessions, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Hours for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would be from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Orosz said preregistration and payments will done online, adding there will be no money transactions at the pool this summer.
Orosz wrote a memo of her recommendations for Wednesday’s meeting. To comply with state standards, such as capacity limitations, reservations, social distancing, cleaning and use of facilities the park will:
- Have a limit of 70 people per swim session, based upon a formula for the size of the pool.
- Visitors will be required to leave at the end of their session to allow for cleaning.
- The reservation window will be done on a rolling three-week basis.
- Visitors will be required to bring their own chairs.
- The pool area will be marked according to guidelines regarding social distancing.
- The locker rooms will not be available for use, other than the bathrooms.
- Current parking restrictions are anticipated to remain in place.
Though the Parks and Recreation Department will continue to evaluate and modify operations as state guidelines change, the staff anticipates that the swim session structure and associated fees will remain in place for the entire season.
Hoarding is a concern
Orosz said the reservation window will be done on a rolling three-week basis, so people cannot monopolize the time slots. However, Dawn Barbeiri, a commissioner, expressed concern that some residents will dominate the time slots.
Barbeiri, who works at a booking company, said she is seeing a trend. “Families are not going on vacations,” she said. “They are putting in pool heaters and pools. That’s their vacation, so people are going to hoard those spots. It will be like concert tickets, so you’re going to have hoarders who push everyone out. That is my fear.”
Theresa Oleyar, a commissioner, said buying so many slots ahead of time could add up and expressed her hope that the cost could be a deterrent from hoarding.
Angelo Lisi Jr., a commissioner, suggested giving no refunds for bad weather to prevent someone from buying so many days at once. “It’s just a thought,” he said.
Oleyar asked what happens if it rains during the day or for a entire time slot.
“If your time slot is canceled during the rain, we will allow you to rebook a time slot,” Orosz said. “Another reason is if there are unforeseen issues. If you choose not to show up, there’s no refund. If we cancel, you have to call us to reschedule.”
“We’re hoping for 69 days of sunny, 80-degree weather with no rain,” she added. “Hopefully everything will go well and people will be understanding.”