Prairie Township opens its pool

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Let there be swimming! A local community center is finally reopening its pool after having it closed for over six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prairie Township trustees recently approve the opening of the Prairie Township Community Center pool at a board meeting.

“The pool will reopen in phases and the first phase of the reopening will take place on Nov. 2,” said Michael Pollack, director of the community center. “The next steps in the process will be to retrain staff, including lifeguards, fill the pool and get all other arrangements in place so we meet the COVID-19 guidelines.”

Pollack said the decision to reopen the pool came after months of research, guidance from similar pools to see how they safely reopened and continually watching the infection numbers in the county. When the decision to reopen the pool was made, Franklin County was still at a level two. However, the township still plans to reopen the pool, despite the increased virus cases in the county.

“The only things that will be open will be the area for water walking and lap swimming; recreational swimming will not be available,” Pollack said. “Reservations will have to be made to utilize the pool and only a few people will be allowed in at one time.”

The township still will not allow day passes at the community center or the pool, but will open the pool up to swim and water fitness lessons. However, according to Pollack, the class sizes will be limited.

Pollack added that the diving board and climbing wall at the pool will not be open and the pool will basically be used for exercise.

“There will be less people than normal participating in these lessons as a precaution to protect our staff and swimmers,” Pollack said. “There will be groups having classes at the same time, but they will be spaced out and in different sections of the pool.”

The community center looked at places like the YMCA and other fitness centers that have reopened their pools on guidance on how to safely do so. Pollack noted that many of these places have had their pools reopened for some time and have been able to keep staff and participants safe.

Pollack said they hope to slowly reopen other parts of the pool and eventually allow recreational swim, but want to wait and see how phase one works out first.

“It is easier to slowly open up then to pull back if we reopen everything at once,” Pollack said. “Over the next two weeks, we should see how this first phase is doing and then we can go from there.”

Officials said staffing wise, the township has been lucky and retained most of its pool staff during the pandemic, so bringing them back should not be an issue. The community center gave pool staff miscellaneous tasks to complete around the center so they could keep them employed.

Pollack hopes with the opening of the pool, they will now see the majority of their members come back. The center has 6,219 members and has a 99 percent retention rate. However, since the pandemic, members have let their membership lapse or they have not come into the center because all the resources are not open yet.

“Some people like coming to the center just for the pool,” Pollack said. “We are hoping by reopening, those members will now come back and utilize their membership to exercise in the pool.”

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