Ready, set, swim!
The pool complex at Anthony F. Veteran Pool Park is set to open July 6 with capacity restrictions, Greenburgh Parks and Recreation Commissioner Gerard Byrne announced during a virtual town board meeting on June 10.
Earlier this month, the parks and recreation department presented a reopening plan to the parks and recreation advisory board and the board voted unanimously to implement a modified pool reopening plan. That plan called for a reduced pool season — 64 days instead of the usual 89 — with two four-hour daily sessions and mandatory wearing of face coverings by patrons.
On June 22, the parks and recreation department was notified by the Westchester County Board of Health that the town could open the complex.
“Staff and the advisory board felt it was important to offer an outdoor summer experience,” Byrne told the Inquirer. “Especially since we made the decision not to have summer camp.”
The Anthony F. Veteran pool complex is open to any resident of unincorporated Greenburgh. Patrons either pay for an annual pool pass, or pay a daily fee: $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.
Because of social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 300 patrons at a time will be allowed into the pool complex, which usually can hold 1,500 patrons. The pool schedule will be split into two sessions over a 10-hour period each day, with online reservations available through the town website. Residents can sign up for a session the day before. For an hour between each session, pool staff will clean and disinfect the complex. Although preregistration is highly encouraged, some walk-ins may be accepted 15 to 30 minutes prior to the start of each session, if space is available based on capacity restrictions.
Pool memberships will not be available for purchase this season, but residents with active memberships from 2019 will be prorated for 2020.
The reservation system was also implemented to make it easier for contact tracing should any patron test positive for the coronavirus. Nonresident guests will not be allowed in the pool complex, however, nonresident emergency service workers and people with disabilities will be allowed to use the complex.
Previously, pool patrons were able to pay a daily fee for all-day access to the pool. In the modified plan, the daily fee will only cover one four-hour session.
“It’s going to cost more to run the pool this year than it has in the past because we will be losing revenue,” said Byrne. “If all goes well and the weather is on our side, we might be able to cover that.”
Face coverings will be required for pool patrons if they are actively moving about the complex. According to Byrne, if a group of patrons is socially distanced from another group, people in each group will be allowed to take their masks off. Whenever a patron leaves a socially distanced group to go to the snack bar or the bathroom, he or she will be required to wear a face covering.
Lifeguards will not enforce social distancing guidelines. Supervisors and pool ambassadors will monitor social distancing and the use of face coverings both outside and inside the pool complex. Masks will not be allowed while swimming or while a patron is physically in the pool.
“You cannot wear your mask in the water. It’s an unsafe situation,” said Byrne.
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on public pools during the pandemic, wearing cloth face coverings is encouraged when feasible and is most essential when physical distancing is difficult. The CDC advises that cloth face coverings not be worn while in the water, as masks can make it difficult to breathe when wet.
The complex’s bathrooms will also be modified, with only two people allowed in a restroom at one time. Indoor showers will not function, and although changing in the restrooms will be an option, patrons will have to wait to access the restroom facilities.
The lap pool will also be open, but only one patron will be allowed to swim per lane. Byrne said patrons living in the same household would be allowed to swim in the same lane.
Cabanas will be available during the season at a reduced rate and 2019 cabana holders who aren’t interested in renting this season will be allowed to rent in the 2021 season.
Any adult entering the complex will also be required to sign a coronavirus liability waiver, which forever releases and waives a patron’s right to bring lawsuit against the town in connection with exposure to the coronavirus in the complex.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said the pool opening with restrictions was “better than nothing,” but that people still need to be careful about potentially spreading the virus. If cases spike this summer, he said the pool complex would probably have to close.
“I have very mixed feelings about the pool,” said Feiner. “On one hand I know people are really frustrated and upset with just being isolated and staying home … but at the same time, I still have doubts about whether or not we’re moving too quickly.”