Elmhurst Park District releases pool information

The summer brochure was released last week, which included details about East End and Smalley Pools. As a reminder, this summer will look different due to numerous pandemic-related restrictions outside of the District’s control, but both pools as well as the spray ground at The Hub will be open with reservations required. Please review some of the frequently asked questions below for more information about what you can expect at the pools this summer.

Why are things so different this year at the pools? Aren’t we past the worst of the pandemic?

The Elmhurst Park District’s pools, as all pools in the State of Illinois, are licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD). Because we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDPH has established Swimming Facility Guidelines for the summer that all state pools must follow, including the Elmhurst Park District. If these guidelines are not followed, the Park District will not be able to get a license and the pools will not open.

These mandated facility guidelines include but are not limited to…

• Number of visitors allowed in the pools (50 people per section with social distancing)

• 30 feet of distancing between sections

• Areas for each section are clearly marked to discourage interaction between sections

• Face coverings required when not engaged in swimming activities

• In-person screenings of employees and customers upon entry into the swimming facility

• Increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols

Because every pool in DuPage County is licensed by IDPH and DCHD, similar guidelines, limits and procedures will be in effect at all public pools this summer.

Why aren’t pool passes being sold this year?

With capacity limits beyond the Park District’s control in place, we cannot guarantee that residents will be able to visit the pool as frequently as they have in the past. Staff anticipates that there will be a high demand for pool reservations this summer.  As a result, daily fees will be implemented.

Why is the fee so high? Is the Park District is trying to make a profit off of this difficult circumstance?

The daily rate for a two-hour time slot is $5 per hour per person. The Park District is in no way "profiting" off of that pricing, and in fact it’s quite the opposite. In a normal summer, taxpayers subsidize the pools by more than $300,000 (or about $5 per visitor). This summer that subsidy will be more than $400,000 (nearly $10 per visitor) due to the mandated restrictions noted above that are beyond the Park District's control and that will drastically decrease the number of people allowed into the facility.  On the other hand, the Park District’s costs to operate the pools, including providing an adequate number of guards to ensure the safety of all swimmers, have increased due to a number of pandemic-related factors. As a result, the fees ($5 per hour) were established to be comparable to other similarly priced activities such as a ticket to the movies or admission to Safari Land, a trampoline park, or an indoor play place.

Why won’t there be lounge chairs available?

It is not feasible for pool staff to monitor chair usage and sanitize each time a person vacates a chair. Last summer, only two public pools in DuPage County opened. In speaking to staff there, they did not provide chairs and found that it was not an issue as the vast majority of visitors wanted to spend their two hours in the water rather than lounging on a chair. Also, chairs take up a lot of deck space, making it more difficult to allow for people to social distance. Visitors can bring their own portable folding chair from home if they wish.

Why are the pools only open for two hours?

In order to try to accommodate the largest number of people, two hour time slots have been implemented, which will be standard practice for park district pools this summer. East End Pool will have three time slots each day (12-2 pm, 2:30-4:30 pm, 5-7 pm), and Smalley Pool will have two (10 am-noon, 12:30 -2:30).

Why isn’t Smalley Pool open for more hours?

East End Pool will be able to accommodate 155 visitors (across 4 sections) per time slot, while Smalley will only be able to accommodate 1 section of 50 due to its layout and design. More hours will be offered at East End as it can serve three times as many people.

Two time slots are currently being planned for Smalley to ensure we have enough lifeguards to adequately staff both facilities for the proposed hours. In a normal summer, the District hires about 80 lifeguards who work between both pools. This summer, lifeguards will only have the option to work at one pool to limit the close contact in case someone is exposed or tests positive for COVID. If we don’t do this and one lifeguard tests positive, it could result in an entire pool being shut down for two weeks. As a result though, we will need to hire a minimum of 120 lifeguards to staff both pools for the hours that are currently advertised. If we are able to hire and train more than 120 lifeguards, hours could potentially be expanded at Smalley.

Why won’t the diving boards and slides be open?

Opening the diving board and slide at East End would significantly reduce the number of people who could be at the pool. Our focus this summer is on allowing as many people as possible to swim in the water. The slide and diving board at Smalley Pool will be open.

Will the concession stands be open this summer?

There will be no concessions this year because both concession areas are needed to be used for lifeguards to take their mandated breaks in an outdoor, socially distanced setting between rotations in the guard chair. 

Will there be any time at the pools reserved for adults?

Morning Swim will be available at East End in one-hour time slots from 5:30-9:30 am for ages 16 years and up Monday through Friday. Reservations will be required.

If the pandemic improves, will some of the restrictions be lifted?

Although it is completely beyond the control of the Park District, we are hopeful that some of the guidelines could change or lessen if circumstances improve. This would heavily depend on the number of individuals vaccinated as well as hospital admissions, hospitalized patients and number of daily cases.

Will group or private swim lessons be offered?

No. Due to social distancing requirements and capacity limits, the District is not planning to run swim lessons this summer. The District wants to be able to provide as many spots in the pool to the greatest amount of people that guidelines will allow for, therefore devoting whatever amount of time we can be open to public swim.

Will the pools offer rentals or birthday parties this summer?

No. Pool private rentals, including birthday parties, are suspended for summer 2021. Look for other rental opportunities throughout the District on the Facility Rentals page.