Wellington Council tells WRC to reopen pool on June 15

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington City Council gave the go-ahead to open the pool on June 15 at this week’s meeting at the council chambers.

As the state slowly reopens so is the council. This marked the first meeting in which all the council members were present in the same room since the pandemic hit in March. The members were lined up in two rows of tables six feet apart with City Manager Shane Shield and City Clerk Carol Mericle sitting at their customary side tables. No one else was allowed in the room.

After considerable discussion, the council decided by unanimous consent that the pool will reopen Monday, June 15 with social distancing guidelines. The council did not provide any specific directives leaving those details up to the Wellington Recreation Commission, which operates the pool during the summer.

While the coronavirus is the primary concern, there are also issues with swimming pool pumps that need to be rebuilt before the pool opens. It may have not mattered whether there is a pandemic or not, as the city awaits parts to get the pumps operable.

“We are strictly at the mercy of the contractor,” said Jeremy Jones, Wellington Director of Public Works, via teleconferencing.

The Wellington Park Board, an advisory board, recommended to the council at its May 11 meeting that June 15 was a good time to open. That was before Gov. Laura Kelly’s issuing her Phase 1.5 reopening order and then Phase 2.0 earlier this week. No public pools can open until Sunday, June 7.

Wellington City Council member Kevin Dodds said he would prefer the pool open on June 8. But council member Guy Leitch said that would be great but isn’t economically feasible if only 30 kids could be there at one time.

WRC Director Cody White said it takes at least a week to get the pool ready for the season. He has the staff, and outside the pumps, everything else seems ready to go.

As far as social distancing standards, White said the staff has discussed removing the lounge chairs and even getting rid of the lily pads.

“The problem isn’t when the kids are in the water, it is when they get out,” Jones said.

Dodds asked what would be the liability to the city if the pool opens and someone could come down with the Coronavirus.

City Attorney Shawn DeJarnett said as long as the city is under state compliance then it should be fine. It is when it is going against the state guidelines, that the City could be liable to a lawsuit.

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