Sapulpa residents who wanted to take the plunge into the pool at the Sapulpa Aquatic Center are going to have to wait until next year, as Sapulpa Parks and Recreation has made the announcement that they’re going to close the facility for the 2020 summer season.
Sapulpa Parks Director Jody Baker said the decision was a result of many of the effects of the Coronavirus.
“Looking at all the requirements we needed to fulfill in order to open safely, it looked to be too expensive for the facility that we have,” Baker said. “I get why people would be upset about it. Summer and water go together like ice and tea. But looking at our facility, we don’t have large enough pool deck to practice safe social distancing.” Baker says the pool deck can only hold 70 people if you take into consideration the pathways needed to walk and get around. “Making sure we’re sanitizing pool chairs, cleaning bathrooms constantly, etc, it wasn’t going to be feasible.”
In addition to the limited space, Baker said lifeguard applications had been shorter than what was needed, and “on top of that, we’re not even able to train them, yet. During training, you can’t social distance. It’s very hands-on.” He also mentioned the idea of putting teenagers into a “first-responder-type situation” while going through this pandemic wasn’t really something they wanted to do.
Baker says that he’s been meetings with other directors, both at the local and national level, and everyone is having conversations about how they’re going to handle their pools this summer. “It’s tough because we’re not all the same size. Norman has a much larger facility and they could open to half-capacity and still be able to keep everyone safe. We just don’t have the room for that,” Baker said. Norman’s Westwood Family Aquatic Center is expecting to open by May 29th at 50% capacity.
Reopening plan is underway
Baker said his department is working on a reopening plan that puts tentative dates with opening up currently-closed facilities, and that some of them would come as soon as this Friday.
“Open now, we have boat ramps, fishing with no fishing permit required until June 30th. We’re looking at opening the tennis courts, pickleball court, (Kelly Lane’s) Wiggly Field and skate park on Friday.”
Other places, such as the playgrounds and the splash pad, would have to be under Phase 3 of Governor Stitt’s plan, and unfortunately, that’s “very tentative right now,” Baker says. “We don’t know when that’s going to be, yet.”
Baker says that even telling his children that the pool was going to be closed this summer was a letdown, but he’s telling everyone that the safety of the public is more important. “We want employees to be safe, participants to be safe, and that’s what important to us.”
See the full reopening plan below.