TORRINGTON – Repairs have been completed, COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, lifeguards have been hired and the Dale Jones Municipal Pool is open to help Torrington residents escape the summer heat.
The DJMP will look a lot different this year, just like everything else in the COVID-19 era, but the pool was entirely left out of early drafts of the city’s 2020-2021 fiscal year budget because of restrictions issued by Governor Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist to slow the spread of the
But that didn’t stop Jordan Rodgers, 11, from arriving more than 20 minutes early to be first in line for opening day Wednesday. Rodgers said he is glad the DJMP will be open this summer, giving him something to do “besides playing Fortnite all day.
“It’s a fun place,” Rodgers said. “It’s really good because it’s hot outside, and it’s cool in there.”
Pool operations will be different in 2020. The pool will open for aerobics and a lap swim from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., and again from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Pool staff will give group and individual lessons from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. After a cleaning session the DJMP will host four, 90-minute open swim sessions at 11 a.m., 1 p.m, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Pool staff will clean the facility between sessions.
Pool Manager Shaylee Mortimore said she is excited the pool is able to open despite the changes and only having six days to prepare for opening day compared to what is typically a two week training period. A post to Facebook announcing the DJMP’s opening had over 7,000 views, she said.
“It’s a big thing for our community,” Mortimore said. “We have multiple kids that come all day, every day, and for them to not have that, I was worried our community was gonna be in trouble.”
Torrington Mayor Randy Adams explained guidelines that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the Torrington City Council Tuesday Night.
“At the end of each session, everyone will exit the pool,” Torrington Mayor Randy Adams said. “The public is reminded that social distancing will be in effect and it will be enforced by pool staff. Everybody who wants to enter the pool area will have their temperature taken, including pool staff.”
The locker rooms and showers will be closed, and there will be no concessions except for a beverage vending machine.
The rates for the pool were up for debate at the council meeting as well. Initially, the city announced each session would cost $1, but the TCC voted unanimously Tuesday to raise that rate to $3 per session beginning July 1. The fee does include use of the slide.
Last season, the daily fee for pool use was $3.
“That’s way too expensive for families to come swim,” Mortimore said of this year’s price hike.
Councilwoman Deanna Hill started the discussion over the pool rates by asking for an additional fee for using the water slide.
“I’d like to see at least a charge for the slide,” Hill said. “I say this every year, but is the cheapest place for daycare there is. You expect your lifeguards to be trained and pay attention, but some people drop their kid off at the pool for daycare. I get that we’re providing a service. I have kids that grew up here, and I get it. It’s wonderful to have a pool, so I don’t need the hate mail.
“I am just wowed we give those services for free for daycare.”
According to the city’s financial transparency portal, the DJMP cost the city over $68,000 more than it made in 2019-2020.
That probably won’t change, Hill said.
“I just wish we charged for the stuff we’re using,” she said. “Lifeguards have to get certified, and we’re paying for them to get certified, we’re paying for uniforms and we’re paying for them to protect your kids.
“We want the slide and we want to be able to have fun things for them to do, but that costs money. Everybody else charges for those things. I get giving stuff away every now and then, but I just don’t see giving away the shirt off our back, either.”
Adams said he agreed that $1 per session was cheap, and while he agreed the city had to look at the finances of the pool, it’s an important item for residents.
“Most people didn’t think there was going to be a pool at all this summer,” he said. “There are a couple of different issues. One of those is that this provides a job for 20-plus lifeguards over the summer. We also provide a recreational opportunity for kids who haven’t really had a lot to celebrate.
“At the same time, we do have to pay for it. This discussion tonight is good but we have to settle on a number.”
Patrons will pay the fee for each session they participate in.
“This is a service we provide and it never makes money,” Councilman Ted Kinney said. “It just doesn’t. I understand that financially, for the city, we’ve got to make up something.”