South Dakota communities debate opening public pools for the summer

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 10:10 PM CDT
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While many communities across South Dakota are still wrestling with the decision whether to open their swimming pools for the summer or not, private parks like Wild Water West are facing the same challenge.

In a post on their Facebook page Monday, one of Sioux Falls' favorite attractions announced it would be opening by the end of the month.

While technically not under the jurisdiction of the city itself, Wild Water West says management has been in contact with Minnehaha County leaders, and plans to have the facility operational by May 30th.

The post goes on to ensure park goers that all the proper safety precautions will be taken to keep patrons as well as staff healthy. This, of course, all pending things don't change dramatically between now and then.

In Brandon, quite the opposite, where City Council has already voted to keep the city's pool closed for the entire season.

"It was pretty unanimous to do it," Brandon City Administrator Bryan Read said. "There was quite a bit of discussion on the guidelines that were recommended, and what we could do to accommodate those guidelines, and who knows, things may change considerably by this summer, but with the information we currently had available to us we chose to close."

I'm told there was multiple factors that led to the decision, at the forefront, the public's safety.

"We're erring on the side of caution to protect the health and safety of our citizens," Read said.

City Leaders say it would have been extremely difficult to comply with the CDC's recommendations regarding pool operation.

Those guidelines include keeping a six foot distance between swimmers, hiring extra staff to maintain that social distancing, and disinfecting surfaces every ten minutes.

"So disinfect all of the toilets, the handles, the doors, the lockers, the stairs, ladders, slides... it's virtually impossible," Read said.

Read says the pool was also set to undergo renovations at the end of the season, so closing it now will give them a head start on having it ready to go for the summer of 2021.

While Brandon has made its final decision, the city of Sioux Falls has yet to do so. However, I'm told by the Mayor's Office that an official plan is expected to be released early next week.