Municipalities Tread Difficult Waters in Opening Pools During Pandemic

Municipalities faced a, well, fluid situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic as they made decisions about whether or not to, and how, to open their pools this summer. 

“We’ve been cooped up,’ said Sara Wilcox after learning of the city of University Park’s initial plan for an abbreviated season for the Holmes Aquatic Center that would have allowed lap swimming only. “We don’t want to take our kids to the mall or big, indoor public places for obvious reasons, so having an outdoor space is critical.” 

University Park changed course from the plan the City Council approved in May after residents petitioned and city staff was able to increase lifeguard staffing. The new plan allows for recreational swimming beginning July 1. 

Reservations are required with an active pool pass, which is $25 for the 2020 season, per the city’s new plan for recreational swimming. Use of the facility is limited to residents of University Park or residents of Dallas who live within Highland Park ISD for the season, per the plan approved by the city council June 16. 

On June 9, the town of Highland Park opened its pool at 3801 Lexington Avenue within Davis Park for both lap and recreational swimming. 

“We feel that we are prepared to open the facility starting with 100 reservation spaces and increasing incrementally as we are able to safely do so,” Jen Post, University Park’s aquatic supervisor, said during a June 16 work session. “The amenities that would be included in the pool season would be the large pool, the baby pool, the splash pad, the diving boards, and the slide.” 

Wilcox, who’d started an online petition calling for the city to open the facility further, praised the new plan. 

“Mayor (Tommy) Stewart and the U.P. City Council clearly listened to our community and came up with a solution that allows us to enjoy swimming with our families during the hot Dallas summer, while respecting Covid-19 regulations,” she said. 

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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