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July 16, 2020

5/27/2020 2:09:00 PM
NV parks director hopes to open new pool June 14
Last fall, the North Vernon Parks and Recreation Board was looking forward to making a huge splash on this past Memorial Day weekend, with the opening of the city's brand-new pool and splash pad.

Those plans were washed away in March, when the state went into stay-at-home mode as government and health officials worked to slow the spread of COVID-19, the serious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed at least 99,000 Americans since late January.

"It sure won't be the same, said parks Director Chad Speer. He said he hopes the pool will be able to open on Sunday, June 14, but even then, it will be limited to 50 percent of its capacity of 529 people.

"On that date, we will be able to allow a maximum of about 250 people," he said. Social distancing and the wearing of protective face masks will be encouraged, but will not be required.

Speer said all employees will be required to wear masks while they are on the deck of the pool around patrons, but state guidelines prohibit requiring lifeguards to wear them while on duty in their chairs. Guards will be required to disinfect the chairs when they change shifts.

Lifeguards also won't be required to monitor social distancing, but may ask people in the pool to spread out, if necessary.

Policies have been put in place to help patrons practice social distancing while enjoying the pool, which will open daily at noon.

Prior to opening, employees will disinfect all public areas, including restrooms and locker rooms. This will be repeated daily at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. When the facility closes, public areas will again be cleaned and disinfected, especially all "touch points" such as handrails or tables.

The concession line will be set up like a queue, with an entrance at one end and an exit where patrons will pick up their orders. There will be markers to help people remain 6 feet apart.

Lounge chairs that were purchased for the facility will not be set out. "There's no way we can keep track of who uses which chair to make sure they are disinfected between use,"

Speer said. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

As for the slide, one of the crowning features of the new pool, "we're not sure how to handle that yet," Speer said, explaining that it would be difficult for his staff to keep those using the slide 6 feet apart and ensure surfaces are disinfected, even at 50 percent capacity.

Speer said he hopes that the crowds will start low and perhaps build up over time.

"I hope we don't have to turn people away" when it opens. "We want to do this in the safest manner possible."

In the meantime, Speer said he is hoping the splash pad might be opened on Friday, June 5, once the required water tests come back negative.

The splash pad was designed to be open even when the pool is not, he said. Operationally, the facility is ready to go, he said. Employees on Wednesday were in training to learn to operate the mechanical systems.

Speer encourages patrons to call his office, (812) 346-9371 with any questions, or to inquire about crowd size before coming to swim.

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