Thu April 30, 2020
Dear Residents, Pass Holders and Patrons of the John J Sinde Pool.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across our country, we regret to inform you the Westchester Park District will be keeping the John J Sinde Pool closed for the 2020 swim season.
In a normal year, the Park District begins the process of getting the pool ready for normal operations in mid-March. This provides us with ample time with water in the pool for pool-specific lifeguard training and required safety inspections. With the Stay at Home order announced from the Governor’s Office, all employees were instructed to stay home with only the most basic functions of the Park District still operating. With the new extension of the Stay at Home pushing that date out to at least May 30th, the process of beginning our opening procedures cannot even commence. Further, the Illinois Department of Public Health has given no indication as to when it would even begin conducting pool inspections and has informally stated that it has no plans to do so until more is known about the shelter in place extension.
With the uncertainty of the length of the current stay-at-home order, the likely restrictions on group activity this summer, even if the Stay at Home restrictions are eased, the time necessary for the proper training of lifeguards, and the lead time necessary to achieve the high maintenance standards the Westchester Park District strives for, we have reached the disappointing conclusion that we cannot safely open the John J Sinde Pool to the community this summer. Even setting aside the training and maintenance issues, it is unclear how the Park District could open the John J Sinde Pool and still comply with the strict limits on gatherings and other safety protocols issued by the CDC and the IDPH. Although recent CDC guidance noted that pools could begin to operate in Phase I of the Opening Up America Again guidelines, it qualified that guidance by stating that pools would still need to comply with social distancing (i.e. people six feet or more apart), size limitations (e.g. keeping gatherings under 50 people), and cleaning/disinfecting guidelines. Quite frankly, with these regulations slashing the number of pool patrons allowed into the facility by more than 75%, the Park District does not know of a fair method to allow entrance to the pool for all residents who have bought passes to date, let alone those who may purchase a pass in the future. Moreover, the Park District simply cannot in good conscience charge our residents the previously collected fees for pool access when that pool access will be sharply curtailed, and at the same time open the facility with significantly higher costs required to operate safely.
As disappointing as this news may be, we feel it is the right decision for the health and safety of the general public as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic and how to meet the challenges it presents not just for the swimming pool but for all activities conducted by the Park District.
Everyone who purchased a pool season pass, swim classes, or swim lessons will automatically receive a refund. The refund process will begin next week and we expect it can be completed by the end of the third week of May.
For more information, or to view the COVID-19 updates, visit the website at wpdparks.org.
Westchester Park District
Board of Commissioners and Staff