SOUDERTON — There are too many variables and too little time to be able to open the Souderton Community Pool for a shortened season this year, so the pool will stay closed for 2020, Souderton Borough Council members said at the board's June 29 work session.
The board had previously decided that the pool would not open as long as the area was in the yellow phase of the coronavirus-related restrictions, then later formed an ad hoc committee to further look into pool issues and said it might be possible to open after the area went to the green phase, which happened June 26.
If the pool opened under the restrictions, the maximum amount of people that would be allowed in at a time would be 250 to 300, Borough Manager Mike Coll said at the June 29 meeting. About 500 are normally allowed, he said at a previous meeting.
Last year, 720 borough residents had pool memberships, with about 350 of those using the pool on any given day, Coll said. The pool could offer memberships to those same people this year, but that would mean that people from other neighboring towns who would also normally be using the pool would not be able to do so this year, he said.
“Bear in mind, it's going to take us at least two weeks to assemble a staff and to get that facility in operation, so the longer we wait, the shorter the facility is open,” Coll said.
Council's next regular business meeting, at which a vote could have been taken on the matter, is July 6.
If the council were to vote on July 6 to have the pool open, it would be about July 20 before it actually opened, leaving only about a month that it could be open, council President Brian Goshow later said.
Coll previously said the pool would have to close by mid-August because of staff members returning to school.
Council member Richard Godshall said he'd like to see the pool open, but with the virus on the uptick in other parts of the country, also has concerns that everything possible is being done to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Additional issues raised included having to still get pool management staff.
“You have the management issue, you have the staffing issue, you have the issue of the amount of time it's gonna take to get everything in place,” Goshow said.
“If it was May 1 and we were having this discussion,” he said, “it'd be a much different story.”
Coll said the borough should now work on getting ready for next year's swim season.
“We should really set the goal to try to get a management team by the fall, so we can start assembling staff and preparing ourselves for the season,” he said.
Neighboring towns that have pools also have full-time recreation directors, which Souderton does not have, he said. Souderton does have a pool manager position.
“We may have to think about what that position is,” Coll said, “because it may not be able to be a 15-week period, maybe something more part-time at least.”
Goshow said it was “not an easy decision” to not have the pool open this year and said the borough would put a statement on its website explaining the reasons.
In other Souderton matters:
• The July 6 agenda will include a vote on whether the board accepts the Business Improvement District's plans to expand to include all of Souderton and for the BID and Souderton-Telford Main Streets to merge into a new organization named Souderton Connects.
Council's acceptance of the plan means the BID would begin a process including holding public meetings after which business property owners in the BID could vote on the plan. The BID is currently in the last year of its initial five-year term. Approval by the property owners of the new plan would renew the BID for another five-year term.
• After having switched to teleconference meetings in recent months because of the coronavirus, the July 6 council meeting will be held in the borough meeting room with social distancing. Other parts of the building may have to be used to make room for some of the members of the public, Goshow said. Council member Julie Munden said she will look into the possibility of also teleconferencing or videoing the meeting.