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APRC: Daniel Meyer Pool won't open this summer

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has decided not to open the Daniel Meyer Memorial Pool this summer because COVID-19 safety guidelines would make operation of the deteriorating facility almost impossible and expensive.

The pool, located in Hunter Park at 1705 Homes Ave., typically opens in June and offers swim lessons, lap swim and recreational swimming through mid-September.

Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black said guidelines for operating a public pool continue to evolve, and adhering to best practices would be difficult.

“A couple of the big challenges are screening people when they come in and also keeping physical distancing in the pool,” he said. “The fact that we could limit the number of people that we are allowing into the pool could mean that we have crowds outside the doors, people waiting outside to be let in because the pool’s too busy, turning away people because we’re over capacity.”

Furthering complicating matters for APRC is the fact that the hiring process usually begins about a month before the pool opens, and it would be difficult to know exactly how to train that temporary staff because guidelines continue to evolve.

Another big issue is cost, Black added. Operating the pool through a pandemic could end up costing the city the same as a typical year and possibly more, but the restrictions would limit the number of paying customers to a fraction of the number it usually serves.

“That is a big budget hit for us where we would have to look at cutting other programs in order to cover the losses from revenue on the pool,” he said. “So there’s just so many different things. And then you could also throw in the age of the pool and the fact that last year we spent many, many days closed because the pool was deteriorating.

“It’s a difficult decision, but it’s the right decision.”

Black said the Parks Department will continue to perform regular maintenance to make sure the pool doesn’t fall into further disrepair, work that currently involves troubleshooting a faulty heat pump.

Meanwhile, Black added, design work for Daniel Meyer Pool’s $2.7 million replacement is ongoing, and a meeting with architects from Robertson Sherwood Architects, P.C., is expected to take place soon, either in person or via Zoom. The new pool is still a go, Black added, despite the fact that its funding source, the Ashland Food and Beverage Tax, will come in way under projections due to COVID-19.

The city is paying Robertson Sherwood Architects $161,130 to design the new pool.

“I can say with certainty that it is going to happen,” he said. “We can’t continue to operate that pool, so if there’s going to be a pool in Ashland in the next few years we have to do something to get the new pool built. So that’s why we’re continuing the contract with the designers to get the design finished, and we’re going to work really hard to find and identify a new funding source.”

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@rosebudmedia.com.

Andy Atkinson / Ashland TidingsDaniel Meyer Pool won’t open this summer due to cost and other factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.