Butler County pools hoping for more active year as summer unofficially begins: What they’re doing

The Fairfield Aquatic Center will open this year after being closed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. FILE PHOTO
The Fairfield Aquatic Center will open this year after being closed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. FILE PHOTO

After dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic last summer, pool managers now are facing another challenge: A cold front has delayed the opening of some aquatic centers.

Memorial Day weekend typically signals the start of the swimming season, but with temperatures in the 50s and rain in the forecast, it’s unclear when Butler County pools will open.

But managers said once the weather improves, pools will open, health restrictions will be followed until they’re lifted Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine and they hope for improved attendance after a dismal 2020.

Casey Wooddell, parks and recreation director for Oxford, said the Oxford Aquatic Center would open this weekend, depending on the weather.

He said in 2019, more than 30,000 guests used the aquatic center during a shortened season because the pool didn’t open on time. But last year, attendance dropped to 14,000, Wooddell said.

That was better than the attendance at the Fairfield Aquatic Center that never opened last year, said Tiphanie Mays, parks and recreation director for the City of Fairfield.

Since the center was closed last summer, Mays said staff had time to make some improvements. She said the sand volleyball courts were removed, giving more lounge area and the pool entrance was modified by switching from an iron gate to garage doors, giving it “a more intimate feeling,”

Last year, Mays said, the state had 37 “major requirements” before pools could open. Some included adding staff to monitor social distancing, closing the pool every two hours for cleaning and installing physical barriers in the water to keep swimmers a safe distance apart.

She said the Aquatic Center averages 400-450 swimmers a day and going from that to the recommended number of 120 was “a very significant decrease.”

All of those factors, she said, would have created “a negative experience” for patrons.

It was easier to close the pool last season due to the health restrictions that would have caused the daily rate for swimmers to increase, she said.

“We didn’t want to put the burden on visitors,” Mays said.

Hamilton’s eight water features, six splash pads in neighborhoods and two in Marcum Park, are open regular hours this year, opening late with reduced hours in 2020, said Steve Timmer, director of Hamilton Parks Conservancy that operates the parks.

He said the water features will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

There are no public pools in Middletown, but the city operates two splash pads at Douglass and Smith parks. The water features are free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

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