Although town pools in Katonah and Lewisboro were dry over the Memorial Day weekend, officials hope they make a big splash in time to mark the Fourth of July.
But it’s also possible they’ll remain dry all summer.
County permits, required to open the popular facilities, have been stalled by a statewide coronavirus-related lockdown. But, with a ban on state beaches lifted to accommodate the recent holiday weekend’s festivities, rec leaders in both towns were expressing hope last week that they could have their waterworks back in time for this year’s fireworks.
“We’re hoping for the [state] beaches to have a good social-distancing opening this weekend,” Dana Mayclim, Lewisboro’s veteran parks and recreation superintendent, said in an interview last week, before their scheduled reopening.
“If it goes badly,” she said, “there might not be any hope for pools.” That would keep Lewisboro’s Town Park Pool in South Salem out of action this year.
In Bedford, which maintains pools in each of its three hamlets, including Katonah, Recreation and Parks Superintendent Christoper Soi sees July 1 as the earliest date he can open the swim facilities.
He called that date tentative and said it was based on the county’s issuance of required operating permits by June 1. Otherwise, he warned during last week’s online Bedford Town Board meeting, “There remains a possibility of pool facilities not opening for the summer season.”
In March, responding to a mounting death toll from spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took steps to lock down the state, closing schools, shuttering nonessential businesses and directing residents to stay home and shelter in place.
That self-isolation, which required residents to, among other things, avoid gathering in crowds, has been credited with helping to blunt the virus’s lethal rampage. As New York watched the COVID-19 death rate ebb compared with numbers from only weeks ago,
Cuomo relaxed restrictions earlier this month on beachfront bathing. Acting in concert with Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, he reopened state and local beaches and lakeshores just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
Going into the weekend, local rec leaders were keenly aware that crowd behavior at waterside over the three day-plus holiday observance could have a critical influence on Albany’s decision to allow further openings.
Moving forward with summer operations in either town depends on county Department of Health permits because, Mayclim said, “none of us can open a pool without the health department permitting us.”
“We’re waiting to see what the governor says,” she said.
Soi, in his message, told the Town Board he expected “significant additional guidance” from the county within the next two weeks.
The timing of the pool opening could be key, Mayclim suggested.
“As long as it’s in July, I think the Town Board will consider it,” she said. “Anything after July, I think they’ll say it’s not financially responsible.”
When it comes to municipal pools, some Westchester communities have already thrown in the towel, citing safety concerns as much as fiscal ones in ordering pools closed for the season.
Mayclim expressed confidence in her department’s ability to safeguard swimmers and staff.
“I think we have a good plan in place,” she said. It includes controlling traffic in and out of the pool to avoid contact and maintaining strict social distancing—made clear with markers—for everyone at poolside. Lifeguards would be designated “social ambassadors” and enforce the regulations.
“All we really are waiting for is what the state is going to guideline us to do on top of what we’ve been thinking about,” Mayclim said.
Soi did not respond to a request for comment regarding Bedford’s safeguards.
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