Due to COVID-19 public safety concerns, Pacific aldermen voted 4-2 at their May 19 board meeting to not open the city’s pool for the 2020 season.
Timing of national guidelines and state regulations for public pools regarding coronavirus risks and containment played a role in the decision, as did proposed added job responsibilities for lifeguards.
Pacific City Administrator Steve Roth said Midwest Pool, as the contracted operator, would have had primary responsibility for managing the pool in conformance to all applicable guidelines. Midwest Pool representatives stated they had reviewed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and operating plans, and had participated in a multi-state meeting May 15.
Roth said the operator’s plan was to add signage to designate social distancing, limit the deck furniture, have lifeguards regularly disinfecting pool-related items or surfaces while in operation, and have hand sanitizer throughout the pool area.
The occupancy of the pool also would have been limited to 91 guests at a time, and that no person younger than 16 years old could have been at the pool without a parent or guardian.
The city’s park board members held a special meeting May 18 to revisit the pool season for 2020, and voted to recommend to aldermen to open the pool June 1.
Aldermen debated how to equitably limit occupancy to the pool for ultimate safety; keep social distancing while in or out of the water; concerns about having teenage lifeguards focused on pool attendance and cleaning rather than monitoring swimmers’ safety; accurately track fluctuating swimmers; and whether operating expenses for the pool are the best expenditure of city funds given the overall economic circumstances.
Even before public health risks were looming, whether to open Pacific’s 40-year-old, leaking pool has been the $60,000-plus question for several months.
Several Franklin County cities and other regional municipalities are not opening their pools for various reasons. Washington is building a new pool. Union, Eureka, Ellisville and Chesterfield will not open their pools this year either.
At press time, Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka remained temporarily closed, along with the rest of the park.
At the May 19 Pacific board meeting, aldermen also approved a series of residents who were appointed to the following city groups:
• Heather Filley, park board committee.
• Benton Kelley, board of adjustment.
• Sarah Summers, board of adjustment from an alternate to member.
• Bryan Kopp, East Osage CID and Osage CID.
• Felicia Ammann, beautification committee.