There will be no pool to cool down in this summer at Rumsey Park.
With the added expenses to train and protect staff from COVID-19, the Payson Town Council decided at its May 7 meeting to keep Taylor Pool closed for the summer.
“I really think it’s what’s best for the community,” said Councilor Barbara Underwood.
“With your heart you want to open it, but with your mind (you can’t),” said Mayor Tom Morrissey.
Courtney Spawn, Payson’s parks, recreation and tourism director, said she has spent hundreds of hours in online meetings with professionals in the recreation industry, along with health officials to weigh the risks and benefits of opening the pool.
In the end, the cost benefit analysis just didn’t add up to the council.
Because of the health threat, the town would have had to install Plexiglas, hire more staff, put up more signs, purchase personal protective gear and take part in additional training to ensure the safety of staff and swimmers.
All that would have been on top of the estimated annual operating cost of $90,000. Last year, the pool made the town $32,000, said Spawn.
The CDC has stated COVID-19 cannot be passed through properly chlorinated and maintained pool water, but crowds would require social distancing enforcement within the pool, on the deck, diving boards, restrooms, showers and changing areas.
When the Roundup polled community members online on the Facebook page Payson Community News and Chat, most supported opening up the pool.
“Open it! Our kids have had 0 social engagements since March. They need a place to go and pools are out in the air and exercise instead of sitting in front of (a) video. The pool would pay for itself if it remained open weekends and the summer break, instead of just 6 weeks,” said Mary Hansen.
With the splash pad, the new watered-down version has turned away support.
“At first I was all for the splash pad, but after seeing the revised version of the pad I just don’t believe it’s worth the money. If it were similar to the ones in Queen Creek, then I could get on board. But a pad with a couple of sprinklers just isn’t topping the list of things this town desperately needs,” said Tiffani Cluff.
“I agree. If it can’t be a great splash pad like some in the Valley, then money is better spent to fix the pool,” said Robin O’Donnell.
Some residents would like to see the town invest in both a pool and a splash pad.
“Open the pool and build a splash pad! We have nothing to bring people here. Splashing in Green Valley Park would be great family fun,” said Deborah Green Paulk.
The Roundup polled readers on Payson.com and 236 said the town should go forward with plans to build the splash pad while 105 said the town should scrap plans to build the splash pad and 60 said they would like to see a new pool built instead.
The council voted unanimously to not open the Taylor Pool for the 2020 summer season.