By Amanda Ensinger
A local township is waiting to open its pool, despite increased demand.
Based on guidelines from the state, the Prairie Township Community Center has decided to hold off on the reopening of its swimming facilities.
“Right now, we are looking at our options and watching the number of cases in the county,” said Prairie Township Community Center Director Michael Pollack. “We won’t reopen the pool until we know we can adhere to all the guidelines in place.”
Pollack said because of the size of the pool, with all the guidelines in place, only a few people would be able to swim at once and this doesn’t make it worth the expenses of reopening it. In order to reopen the pool, the township would need to refill it, as well as pay all the utility expenses of keeping a pool filled and running.
Township officials had hoped to reopen the pool, but with the increase in COVID-19 cases, they had to rethink plans.
“We are looking at what other pools are doing and trying to do more research to see how we can safely reopen,” Pollack said. “Having our pool inside and having limited space presents some challenges other pools don’t have.”
Pollack said one of the benefits of having their pool inside is that they can reopen it when the weather turns cold, giving them more flexibility on reopening than outdoor pools have.
At the community center, visitors are asked to wear a mask until they begin working out. Once they are working out, they do not need to wear a mask, but should maintain physical distance from others.
The community center is also looking for ways to drive down expenses, as well as generate revenue.
“Things like draining the pool and reducing our cable service are great ways to save,” Pollack said. “We also have been offering a variety of virtual and outdoor classes people can sign up for. This is generating revenue and helping us bring in some new funds.”
The current budget for the community center is $1.8 million a year, but the department has access to an additional $500,000 from the general fund to use as needed. This year, the community center has had to use an additional $350,000 from that fund.
Officials hope they will be able to slowly reopen the center to more people and will have to use less of these general fund dollars in 2021. However, according to Pollack, the spread of COVID-19 will be the biggest factor on how quickly they can reopen.
“We want to continue to reopen, but we have to safely do it,” Pollack said. “Everything is changing day-to-day, so it is hard to plan too far into the future. Right now, we are continuing to get our direction from the state and will reopen different parts of the center as soon as we can safely do so.”