Hinsdale pool will open soon on a limited basis

The Hinsdale Community Pool is poised to open next week after village officials determined the potential loss in revenue from COVID-19 restrictions was outweighed by the community benefit the facility provides.

Heather Bereckis, superintendent of parks and recreation, said June 22 is the target date for opening, provided all preparations have been completed. With Illinois under Phase 3 guidelines at least until June 26, the pool will be available only for swim clubs and lap swimming. If the state does move into Phase 4 next Friday, others will be admitted on a limited basis, she indicated.

“We do have plans in place for Phase 4. Once we are in it, we will be releasing details to the community on any expanded use of the facility,” Bereckis said.

The news came after the village board Tuesday night signed off on the opening. President Tom Cauley said $64,000 already has been spent on the pool as part of regular maintenance. Officials estimate that staying in Phase 3 would cost $166,000 and generate $101,000 in revenue from user groups, for a net loss of $65,000.

Phase 4 financial forecasts, however, cut that loss to $17,000, as more fees would be collected.

“It seems to me that it makes sense opening the pool,” Cauley said. “It doesn’t look to me as though opening the pool would cost us more than we’d otherwise pay for not opening the pool.”

Trustees expect demand will be high with other area pools closed and many adults working from home. Trustee Neale Byrnes inquired about instituting safety measures. Village manager Kathleen Gargano responded that staff was following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and swim organizations, which would include increased cleanings, social distancing and more.

“We will be modeling everything similar to how we did for the restaurant roll-out,” Gargano said.

At a June 9 meeting of the village’s parks and recreation commission, Bereckis told commissioners that operating during Phase 3 only made sense if the pool could also be ready for Phase 4.

“We wouldn’t just open the pool during Phase 3 if we didn’t have a plan for how we can address phases going forward,” she said.

With the required lifeguard count based on the size of pool and not the number of swimmers, she explained, personnel costs would not differ much between the phases.

Assistant Village Manager Brad Bloom told commissioners the village is exercising fiscal accountability.

“We want to make sure that if we do make that investment and we are in Phase 3 for a long period of time, we aren’t going to lose too much money,” he said.

Seeming to capture the feelings of many, Trustee Jerry Hughes said the facility is important to residents and that predicted budget shortfalls are a reasonable trade-off.

“This is a community benefit that we work really hard to manage and minimize the subsidy of,” he said. “These are modest amounts we’re dealing with, and I would definitely err in favor of let’s get this community asset open — especially in this environment — and do everything we can to help the village proceed toward normalcy.”

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean