There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken an economic toll on the world, and all aspects of life continue to be impacted. For Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), that means appropriations were reduced by 33 million dollars for the proposed 2021 budget, and SPR is planning on reducing spending by 8 million dollars.
In the proposed budged, the parks department will only reopen 4 out of the 10 public pools in Seattle, in response to the revenue lost from the pools being closed for 9 months. This decision has had a split response by members of the public. The decision in relying on the fact that the condition of the pandemic is not likely to allow for pools to reopen in 2021, in which case it won’t matter if the budget allows for pools to reopen. However, with the recent development of multiple vaccines, the likelihood of returning to a somewhat normal society is beginning to look more and more optimistic. If the climate of the pandemic did somehow take a turn for the better in the latter half of 2021, the decision to close the pools would have a significant impact on Seattle residents. At the high school level, it would signify a possible end to high school swim teams. As the only pool open in North Seattle, Meadowbrook, would have to be shared by the 4 public high schools in North Seattle, not counting the multiple private schools too.
“It is not just the matter of the serious impact felt by our high school and recreational athletes; it is a matter of public health and safety,” said Jen Daily, head coach of Ingraham’s swim team.
These closures will affect more than just the avid swimmers. What will happen to all of those employed at the pools? The SPR commented that it intends to “redeploy” the staff affected by pool and community center closures into a new outdoor recreation program set to begin in 2021.
Overall, the decision to close pools is a bit of a gamble, if the pandemic persists as it has been, many Seattle residents might not even notice pools were ever closed. Yet, if the pandemic does not improve, it could spell disaster for the swimming community across Seattle.