The decision to close the Pleasantville Village Pool has frustrated and angered residents, prompting the creation of a petition last week urging the Village Board to open the pool for the summer.
The petition, titled Save the Pool, was posted by the Pleasantville Swim Team on change.org. As of Monday morning, it had 479 signatures. The petition cites the board’s decision to close the pool as premature and “without appropriate consideration for the impact the closure would have on our community.”
Last month, the board announced the facility’s closure out of concern for health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic. In light of the petition, the issue was discussed again at last week’s Village Board meeting. The matter was scheduled to be discussed again at Monday evening’s board meeting.
Pleasantville is among a handful of municipalities in Westchester with pools without plans to at least partially open their swim facilities. The village has not filed the necessary permits and a New York Forward Safety Plan that details how it would prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Most pools that are opening are comparatively larger facilities than the Pleasantville Village Pool and requires residents to reserve times and swim in shifts to be spaced apart by 30 minutes for disinfection, Mayor Peter Scherer said. Other restrictions for public pools include limiting attendance capacity to 50 percent; requiring the use of face masks for visitors unless in the water; requiring adequate supplies of sanitizer, soap and disposable paper towels; enhancing cleaning and disinfection protocols; and ensuring that social distancing markers are in place.
A major concern was raised last month by Superintendent of Recreation & Parks Matt Trainor. Trainor worried about the health risk for the staff, most of which is 16 to 18 years old.
Scherer also expressed concern that if the pool opened, young pool staffers would be in the difficult position of telling adults and families to wear masks and making sure social distancing was being observed.
Scherer said the main consideration in closing was whether the village could safely operate the pool while screening and cleaning to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
However, in light of the petition the board has an obligation to revisit its decision, he said.
“We were ready to open Memorial Day and absent COVID, there would be kids jumping in the pool right now,” Scherer said. “What’s in play here is the community’s tolerance for risk. The safest thing is not to open this year.”
The swim team’s petition also blames the board for “failing to adopt a clear plan for the maintenance/repair work that needs to be done on the pool to ensure that it can open for the 2021 summer season.”
The more than 50-year-old pool has had noticeable signs of deteriorating infrastructure for years but the village has managed to keep it open with stop-gap repairs. In 2017, the village received an estimate to rehabilitate the pool for $1.5 million. The primary concern was to replace the underground control room, which was flooded and would need to be rebuilt above ground.
Last June, the kiddie pool sprang a leak from return pipes running around the perimeter of the pool. The kiddie pool was closed, the pipes were replaced and it was reopened.
More recently the village received a proposal from Aquattica Pools & Water Parks to completely rebuild the pool for about $3.5 million, a price tag that officials found staggering. The village will discuss the issue with Aquattica for another estimate to fix existing problems and bring the pool into compliance with the new health code.
The much-needed repairs coupled with the precarious economic environment has presented the Village Board with tough decisions to make. If the pool were to open, raising the $400-per-family fee now might be difficult, Scherer said.
“It’s a good deal for the community,” he said. “If we raised the fee it makes it harder for folks.”
Floating a bond to finance a new pool would result in significant property tax increases, Scherer said. He doesn’t think the village is in a position to consider a multimillion-dollar bond.
“Our pool serves not only village residents but kids and families in the school district, many who do not pay taxes here. A tax increase would impact only village residents,” he said.