Dry summer: Cedar Rapids municipal pools won't open in 2020

Reopening them was deemed too big a risk

The pool at Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids is closed for the season. On Thursday, the city said municipal outdoor pools
The pool at Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids is closed for the season. On Thursday, the city said municipal outdoor pools and aquatic centers would stay closed this summer. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — There will be no swimming this summer at municipal outdoor pools and aquatic centers in Cedar Rapids — a decision some other cities are still weighing.

The announcement was made Thursday by Scott Hock, Cedar Rapids’ director of parks and recreation. It affects pools at Bever, Ellis and Jones parks and aquatic centers at Cherry Hill and Noelridge parks.

“Our staff has spent the last several weeks reviewing the guidelines from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for operations to determine if accommodations could be made to allow public swimming at the pools,” Hock said. “We also explored the option of possibly having a shortened season at a few of the pools.

“With over 160,000 typical pool users each summer, the potential for exposure to COVID-19 still exists even if following these guidelines due to the number of surfaces at the facilities that are touched hundreds of times each hour.”

And social distancing in the water and lifesaving “would be difficult.”

Hock said it remains possible Bender Indoor Pool could be open for swimming lessons later this summer.

Splash pads in Cedar Rapids parks, currently closed because of state restrictions on public playgrounds, may open later if those restrictions are lifted and the city determines they can be operated safely.

“Our primary goal is to keep the community safe and we believe that this is the best precaution to take for the summer. We have made the decision early to allow our staff time to find other summer employment and plan for other recreation programs,” Hock said.

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Marion Parks and Recreation director Mike Carolan said Thursday that “we just don’t have a decision yet” on opening the city’s pool.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation Director Julie Johnson said “there’s a real possibility” City Park Pool won’t open this summer.

“We haven’t started a process to do any opening on an outdoor facility yet. The earliest City Park Pool would open is July 4,” she said.

One of Iowa City’s two indoor pools, Mercer Park Aquatic Center or Robert A. Lee Rec Center, may open this summer on “a very limited basis,” Johnson said.

No decision has been made on opening Coralville Community Aquatic Center’s outdoor pool this summer, said Coralville Aquatics Supervisor Faron VanNostrand. That’s also the case for North Liberty’s outdoor pool.

“We hope it opens at some point,” said North Liberty Recreation Director Shelly Simpson, “but there are a lot of factors at play. The biggest concern is staffing.”

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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