As far as recreation goes, one of the most important things our city can offer is pools over the summer. Most families don’t have pools at home, and they don’t have access to pools at gyms or private clubs either. That’s why one of my priorities has been to make our city pools available for as many people as possible. Swimming is one of the few opportunities for outdoor recreation when it’s 102 outside. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s a necessity.
If you want to know how much of a necessity it is, the following is from an email I received last week from a resident asking for a “phased opening” of the pool at Udall Park.
I am 59 and have virus-induced asthma and also arthritis. Swimming keeps my lungs healthy without taxing my already troubled joints.
I canceled my [fitness club] membership the day they reopened last week because there's no way for me to reach the pool there without passing through a lot of recirculated stale air, in a setting where people without masks are huffing and puffing. I'm sad about that. Lap-swimming is at the core of my health regimen. My last swim was mid-February
As we look at reopening city facilities, one of the things being discussed is reopening city pools. Earlier this month, the Parks and Recreation Department announced a plan to reopen four pools, Catalina, Clements, Edith Ball and Sunnyside, opened for a short season starting August 1st. That leaves 16 pools, including Ft. Lowell and Udall, slated to stay closed until next year.
As a side note, Pima County has nine pools that they manage, including three that are often used by city residents. They will remain closed for the summer. That decision was made as much for budgetary issues as it was for safety. The relatively small amount of money involved ($300,000), makes me hope that they reconsider this decision.
What I’ve read regarding the spread of COVID-19 points to being outside as the safest place to be, when properly distanced. The Centers for Disease Control note that “there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the water used in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds.” An outside, chlorinated pool, with proper distance, signage and cleaning protocols consistent with CDC guidelines should be safe.
Those safety guidelines were obviously considered when deciding that those four pools should be opened. But, if those four pools can be opened safely, there is nothing that says we can’t open more pools across town safely. For that matter, why can’t we open them for a longer season?
Both Mayor Romero and Councilmember Santa Cruz have signed on to a memo asking Parks and Recreation to reconsider both the number of pools open and the length of this year’s swimming season. I hope to have some good news for you and your families about this over the next couple of weeks.