The Blaine County Recreation District board voted on Monday to cancel all summer programs at the Aquatics Center, citing uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure will impact a staff of 28, including lifeguards who hoped to return to the pool for $11 per hour summer jobs. It will also impact hundreds of kids who use the pool’s programs to learn to swim.
“A lot of kids are going to miss out on a full year of swimming, which is not going to be a safe thing for our community,” said BCRD Board President Mike Burchmore.
The BCRD Aquatic Center sees some 22,000 visits each summer. Last year, 450 kids enrolled in its learn-to-swim programs. An additional 100 participated in its swim team.
The board’s decision came following an analysis of construction schedules for completion of its years-long $2.5 million renovation. Timetables have been set back several weeks due to isolation orders and new construction guidelines will further slow completion of the facility. The expansion was expected to allow the BCRD to grow its instructional programming by 50 percent, according to the BCRD.
Until the outbreak of the coronavirus, the facility was scheduled to open on Memorial Day, but that date was then pushed to July. The board decided Monday that the window for pool operations would likely be too short to fit in before the beginning of school on Aug. 17.
BCRD Executive Director Jim Keating provided an update on Monday that included challenges work crews would face finishing the pools, fences and other construction details under ongoing social distancing rules, as well as uncertainties about pool program operation protocols.
For full story see the Wednesday edition of the Mountain Express.