Valley News – Lebanon officials expect to reopen the pool this summer

LEBANON – An expected decline in COVID-19 cases coupled with a possible inflow of federal incentive dollars has convinced city officials to reopen the Veterans Memorial Pool this summer.

The urban pool on Route 4 east of downtown was closed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and officials had planned to keep it closed again this year.

However, the successful operation of other area pools and Lebanon’s potential to receive some of the roughly $ 350 billion allocated to state and local governments under the recently passed US rescue plan prompted a re-examination.

Paul Coats, Lebanon’s director of leisure, arts and parks, said Monday the city plans to reopen the pool over the winter.

Lifeguards and other seasonal positions are now being filled, which means there is a “pretty high” chance that families will be re-admitted this year.

“It still depends on the COVID infection rates staying low or certainly not rising,” Coats said in a phone interview. “If we have a number of key events here that indicate COVID infection rates are rising again, we would likely call back.”

City officials debated in December whether the pool should be reopened when the $ 61.1 million annual budget for Lebanon is drawn up. This spending plan saved about $ 121,000 that would normally be spent on seasonal staff and other operating expenses, dismaying parents, who argued the facility was one of the few places where children could congregate.

In total, more than 80 residents have written a letter to the city council in which they unsuccessfully campaigned for the pool to be opened, saying it would help those struggling spiritually and financially.

City manager Shaun Mulholland said in an email on Monday that it would cost a little over $ 146,000 to run the facility this summer. In addition to an eight-lane pool, it also offers a paddling pool with a spray function and a picnic pavilion.

However, these costs would be offset by income from passports and punch cards.

According to the city’s website, a family of three can purchase a $ 60 season ticket for the pool, while five-day punch cards for a family of Lebanese residents are also $ 60.

Passports raised around $ 27,000 in 2019, according to the city budget. To make up the difference, Coats said the remaining money could come from the federal incentive.

“We’re not announcing that the pool is open yet, but we plan to do so in light of these contingencies,” he said.

When the pool reopens, there will be plans to keep people socially distant, Coats said. Staff would assign stations to families and attendance would be planned in advance, he said.

According to Coats, these restrictions are based on similar restrictions introduced in the privately run Quechee Club. Members must sign up for reservation blocks, each of which allows four people to swim laps in the indoor pool.

The Veterans Memorial Pool in Lebanon is one of the few community-run pools in the upper valley. Hartford operated the Sherman Manning Pools for 52 years before closing them in 2018 for necessary repairs.

That city is now planning $ 3.3 million to build a new facility with four lanes, water features for children and a sloping entrance accessible to people with physical disabilities.

The River Valley Club, which operates two indoor pools for its members, also requires reservations for members who want to either swim laps or take classes, according to owner Elizabeth Asch.

The pools, she said, are among the most restricted parts of the Lebanon club as they are widely used by the elderly and those most susceptible to serious illness.

“If you don’t have a reservation for the pool, you shouldn’t even go through it,” Asch said on Monday. “… Our rules were very strict from the start, but it works well for us.”

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no scientific reports linking COVID-19 cases to pools, whirlpools, water playgrounds or “other treated aquatic locations”.

Still, the agency recommends that people stay six feet apart in and around the water – a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle.

It is also recommended that pool operators limit occupancy and require the use of masks outside of the water.

Tim Camerato can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3223.

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