OLEAN — At least one city-run seasonal attraction will be open for the Fourth of July.
The City of Olean Youth and Recreation Department announced Monday that the wading pool at Franchot Park will open for business on Wednesday, ahead of the Independence Day weekend.
There will be three swim sessions daily, said Kris Shewairy, coordinator for the department: Noon-1:30 p.m.; 2-3:30 p.m.; and 4-5 p.m.
However, several COVID-19-related safety measures will be in place:
• A maximum of 50 swimmers will be allowed per session, allowing at least 100 square feet for each swimmer to socially distance.
• Face masks must be worn by all swimmers when not actively swimming — including entering and exiting the pool, and while on the pool deck.
• All users over the age of 2 who are not wearing a mask will be denied entry to the swimming area.
• Users are encouraged to practice good hand hygiene, and should remain at least 6 feet away from other swimmers not in their household in and out of the pool.
The water will be fine, though — the added chlorine to pool water will kill virtually every pathogen on contact, and the Centers for Disease Control report that the disease is not waterborne.
But since the virus is a respiratory illness and known to spread easily, social distancing needs to be enforced — virtually impossible in a swimming pool on a hot day without severely restricting usage. As a result, virtually all municipalities in the state have scrapped their full swimming pool programs for the season.
In early June, Mayor Bill Aiello announced that the municipal pool at the William O. Smith Recreation Center and the wading pool at Franchot would be closed this year due to COVID-19 precautions. The following day, the state issued guidance that would allow pools to open. After reviewing the details, officials chose to reopen the Franchot facility, as it is a larger space allowing for more users to utilize it while still social distancing.
“We had to power wash the entire pool and pool deck, set up benches and lifeguard equipment; fill, filter, and vacuum the pool,” Shewairy said, having been originally unsure if the pool could open by July 4 as much of the work was weather-dependent. “Additionally, we are adding additional signage regarding social distancing and capacity limits. Also, I have submitted a COVID-19 safety plan to the health dept.”
The wading pool requires two lifeguards at any time, Shewairy said, but along with someone counting attendees at the gate, several other workers were hired to ensure social distancing guidelines.
“The fire department completed CPR classes with the lifeguards,” he added.