Spokane prepares to reopen pools with some changes

SPOKANE, Wash. — It is something families missed out on last year — a trip to a local aquatic center. That is changing this summer.

The City of Spokane, Spokane County and Spokane Valley are all planning to open their aquatic centers for the summer.

Spokane Parks and Recreation asked the City Council for $220,000 to help offset some costs. On Monday night, council members approved it unanimously. It is not clear if the money will come from the American Rescue Plan Act or somewhere else, but Parks and Rec got the green light to prepare.

“It’s really nice to just start activating these faculties to welcome people back,” said Josh Oakes, Recreation Supervisor for Spokane Parks and Recreation.

All six of the city’s aquatic centers will be open Monday through Saturday, with three days to reserve a one-hour block for open swim.

“With those one-hour time blocks, we’ll be able to have about 135 people,” Oakes said. “That’s about on average what our max capacity is [at 50%].”

This is a big step up from Phase 2 to 3. Under Phase 2, only 50 people are allowed in a pool.

With the extra money, Parks and Rec can offer the pool longer for open swim and have a higher maximum capacity through the summer. Instead of 13,000, Parks and Rec can have a potential capacity of almost 58,000 visitors, or up to 120,000 under Phase 3 guidelines.

The money was needed as Parks and Rec lost out on $4.5 million in revenue last year.

“The recreation programs operate based off of our revenue that we bring in and we didn’t bring in a whole lot of revenue last year because we weren’t able to offer programming,” Oakes said.

It costs them $900,000 for salaries alone during the season.

Swim lessons, lap swim and swim teams will open up in May. Open swim will kick off on July 5th and time slots will be between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“We’re excited, but things will look a little bit different but I think just having our facilities open will be the biggest win,” said Garrett Jones, Director of Spokane Parks and Rec.

Under COVID-19 restrictions, you will not have to wear a mask in a pool. However, instructors will. You will need to stay socially distanced, too.

“I anticipate quite a bit of pent up demand,” said Oakes. “I think that once we’re open there will be a lot of people that want to come, and that’s great.”

Spokane County’s two pools will open in late June and last through mid-August. According to the County’s website, “Current operational plans include limited ARC Learn-to-Swim Lessons and reservation-only family swim sessions.” The City of Spokane Valley hasn’t said when its pools will open, but we do know a swim season is happening.

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