The Village of Pleasantville will open its day camp and pool this summer after closing last year because of potential health risks associated with the pandemic.
Pleasantville Superintendent of Recreation and Parks Matt Trainor said last week that Westchester County Department of Health guidelines for COVID-19 will be in effect.
“Ultimately it is up to each municipality to figure out how the camp will be run,” Trainor said. “How the camp is set up will need DOH approval.”
The pool and the camp were closed for the entire summer last year, with Pleasantville being one of a small number of Westchester communities to close its operations. Details on how to manage the camp and pool this year are still being developed as are the fees and schedules for the camp.
There are some initial hurdles to clear before the camp opens. The six-week program has been run from Bedford Road School. But all Pleasantville District facilities will be unavailable this year because the district will be working on buildings and grounds projects that can only be done during the summer.
“We are looking at an all-outdoor camp scenario as much as possible,” Trainor said. “We would try to run camp out of three sites, which would be Parkway Field divided in two locations and the Nannahagan (Park) pool site.”
He indicated there is an ongoing search for potential building spaces. Trainor suggested the village could rent tents, at a cost of $5,000 to 6,000 per tent, and have one at each location. Occupying a tent with at least three sides would limit capacity to 50 percent, according to county Department of Health guidelines.
The village has three camps based on age groups: Cub Camp for children entering grades K-2, Junior Cubs camp for second- to fourth-graders and Senior Camp for children in grades 5-6.
There would be no more than 15 campers in a group. Masks must be worn and social distancing observed. Typically, there are two staff members per group, but the Department of Health stipulates staffers must remain with their groups for the entire camp session.
“It could get tricky if you have a staff member calling in sick and you are short in one group,” Trainor said.
There will be no transportation for campers because of cost. Buses would have to carry fewer passengers at a time and make multiple trips to pick up and drop off children.
Current plans call for camper drop-off points that would rotate among the three locations and change every day, allowing all children the opportunity to swim. In the past, children would take at least one field trip a week, but transportation restrictions have precluded trips this summer.
Demand will determine the scope and the price range. Trainor and the Village Board are expected to send a survey to the community this week.
Trustee David Vinjamuri said the village’s summer camp is critical for children and their parents. Without camp, some parents may have no affordable option for their children this summer, he said.
“Our option this summer is going to support the middle class of Pleasantville,” Vinjamuri said. “It may be the only way those parents get the ability to work uninterrupted. We should do a very careful job to make sure we know who we are serving, what makes it more useful for them and to meet demand.”
The village is planning to operate the pool the next two summers while researching the possibility of designing and building a new pool.
A new design will be based on a recent survey conducted by the 13-member Pleasantville Pool Task Force formed last fall. The survey was posted on the village website from mid-December to early January, generating 936 responses. Troy Tassier, who led the task force, said responses represented households containing about 3,500 residents, including families, individuals and senior citizens.
Many respondents are longtime pool members, most for more than a decade.
“People don’t just join in, pop in and out. These are people who are longstanding members around for the long haul,” Tassier said. “This is a community pool, a community resource.”
The question about a kiddie pool was key and had been addressed in previous meetings on the facility’s future. The task force survey found that 91 percent of respondents favored a separate kiddie pool and 84 percent wanted it surrounded by a fence.
Some respondents commented on the “calm vibe” of the village pool, but others mentioned their children were bored. Tassier said a balance could be struck by providing sprinklers for younger children. Generally, patrons like the pool’s three sections and thought it was the right size. Many said they would prefer more deck space and additional seating with more pool umbrellas. Having a snack bar was deemed very important.
The village will work with pool consultants using the survey results to develop a plan.
“We are planning to undertake a significant project in two or more years,” Village Administrator Eric Morrissey said. “Right now, (it’s) a good place to at least move the concept forward.”
The village is expected to modify pool operations under Department of Health guidelines to keep visitors and staff safe. Information on membership, schedules and registration will available in the coming months.