Cottrel: New Carlisle pool opening provided morale boost to community amid coronavirus concerns

Tia Runner and Dylan Bledsoe work in concession stand at New Carlisle Pool. Photo by Mike Lowrey

Combined ShapeCaption
Tia Runner and Dylan Bledsoe work in concession stand at New Carlisle Pool. Photo by Mike Lowrey

They said it couldn’t be done.

Last spring when most public pools in our area elected to not open for the summer because of Covid-19, New Carlisle looked at the situation differently.

With careful, detailed consultation with Clark County Health Director, Charles Patterson, the New Carlisle City council decided to give it a go.

Opening was delayed a bit as April Lowrey, pool manager, and her team did routine maintenance that had been delayed until the decision, and worked on a plan to make opening the pool safe.

Distancing had to be incorporated into the pool rules from the beginning. They had to decide how many could safely attend and stop selling tickets when capacity was reached. The pandemic pool capacity of 135 was considerably less than the approximately 600 people capacity of a normal year, but Lowrey and her team decided it was workable.

“We expected to lose money but make it up in smiles and morale,” Lowrey said.

ExploreCottrel: Communities answer call to adopt a Clark County teacher

After all was in place, the pool opened on June 12 a little later than usual but it opened and that was a big deal. During hot holiday weekends all the public pools in the area were maxed out. There was obviously a need.

Season ticket holders were given priority at the opening each day and day passes were sold only after the first hour and if there was still room.

Lowrey expected to have problems at the two-child limit in the baby pool but was pleased when she observed mothers carefully taking turns and smiling about it.

Staff had to be trained to follow and enforce the Covid-19 rules, which was not easy, but they adjusted and learned.

“It became routine and normal,” said Lowrey. “We did it.”

Food at the snack bar was the same as before, but as Lowrey explained, there was an additional snack bar employee that made it possible to keep food prep totally away from money collection.

Facebook became a good tool as notices could quickly be posted when the pool was full. It was also a good place for weather notices.

Because the pool was open, 22 people from the New Carlisle and Bethel Township area were employed for the summer. Some of these were college students who have been a part of the pool for years.

Lowrey said she was thrilled when Morgan Mumma, who had taught swim lessons years ago, returned to teach again. Mumma had taught at least one of the current lifeguards to swim years ago.

The swim team still practiced, but the team was split into morning and evening practice groups. At the end of the summer they were able to enjoy an internal swim meet. Lowery was pleased that the pandemic did not stop swimming skills development.

ExploreCottrel: Waterway in Mad River Twp. finally gets a name

The final financial verdict will take awhile to figure out, and will surely be discussed at a future council meeting.

Judging from the comments I have read and heard, keeping the New Carlisle Pool open this year during the pandemic has been popular with the community.

Such decisions are tough for a council to make especially at such a crazy time as this. There were many things for council to consider, and they reached out to the health department for guidance. But they also listened to the community

The bottom line is that kids and water loving adults in New Carlisle got to swim, splash, and cannonball last summer. The city made some normalcy possible in this crazy year.

The Pandemic Grinch couldn’t stop summer from coming to New Carlisle.