City not opening pools this summer, leaders pitch alternate options

Local News

Summer isn’t cancelled, but a summertime staple is postponed. The City of Sioux Falls is not opening swimming pools this year. With the continued spread of COVID-19, city leaders say they’d need to hire additional staff just to make sure pools are meeting CDC guidelines. This means thousands of families will have one less thing to do this year.

“It’s been a very gut-wrenching decision to be honest with you,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

These aquatic facilities include Terrace, Laurel Oak, Kuehn, Frank Olson, Drake Springs, McKennan Wading Pool and Pioneer Spray Park. The Midco Aquatic Center will remain closed until deemed safe to reopen. Children from lower-income families who would’ve qualified for free pool passes this summer will have some other options. Instead, they could be able to go to the Washington Pavilion or Great Plains Zoo for free.

“Sioux Falls residents who can present documents like a SNAP card or school lunch letter or even a Medicaid card, in addition to proof of address, they’ll qualify,” TenHaken said.

The Washington Pavilion will open its museums on June 1. President and CEO Darrin Smith says it’ll follow social distancing guidelines, offer sanitizer stations, and workers will deep-clean throughout the day.

“The immediate top priority was the kids in the community, especially kids who don’t have access to all of the facilities others do,” Smith said.

The Great Plains Zoo will open on Wednesday. Interim CEO Suzie O’Meara Hernes says the zoo is also following safety guidelines.

“When the city called and said we want to find alternate options, we were just excited to have the zoo as one of them,” O’Meara Hernes said.

As for Siouxland Libraries, staff is reworking programs to online formats, the library mobile will have pop-up events, and has a new method to make sure families get what they need.

“We do have the opportunity for you to get library materials by placing your requests online and then you can come to our libraries and pick those up safely curbside,” Jodi Fick, director of Siouxland Libraries, said.

Summer 2020 won’t make the typical splash we’re used to, but city leaders hope this partnership will keep the season afloat until pools can re-open again.

“This might be the start of something great that’s in place every summer to come,” Smith said.

Mayor TenHaken says the City Council will have to approve this plan. He will bring it to the council at its June 3 meeting. To see a list of what is and is not open, you can visit the City’s website.

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