Reopening Eastmont pool is complicated but still possible

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Eastmont parks officials are considering reopening the East Wenatchee swimming pool in a limited way.

After a quick community survey showed widespread support for reopening the Eastmont Aquatics Center a few hours each day for water walking and lap swimming, parks officials are exploring how that might work.

Douglas County is in a modified version of Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s cocovid-19 reopening plan, which allows indoor pools to open but under strict limitations, said Sally Brawley, parks and recreation executive director.

For example, only one person is allowed in the pool per lane, meaning no more than six people could be in the pool at one time, she said. Access to the pool would be by reservation only and locker rooms would be off-limits

“People have to come ready to swim … and when they leave, they leave in their wet suit out the door,” Brawley said.

To help make that work financially, the survey asked if people were willing to pay a little more per hour. Most said yes, she said.

The Eastmont Metro Parks and Recreation Board has a scheduled Zoom meeting Monday where they’ll receive a report on the survey results.

How much they’d charge and whether it still would mean operating at a loss are key issues that will need to be resolved.

If the park district decides to go through with the reopening, there will be other issues to work out, Brawley said.

Even hiring lifeguards is challenging. Lifeguards are required to be certified every year but after starting the recertification process in March it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There isn’t a lifeguard in town that’s fully certified yet,” Brawley said, adding that getting them certified would probably take a couple weeks or more.

Two lifeguards are still required at all times, even if there are only six people in the pool, she said.

The YMCA has operated the pool for the park district for the past 20 but that arrangement ended this year.

The district is still in the process of replacing much of the infrastructure they need to run the pool themselves, Brawley said. That includes safety signage, a computer system, telephone and other things needed to open.