Residents frustrated with some pools remaining closed

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 5:43 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 22, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- As some pools in Tallahassee reopen, residents in neighborhoods with closed pools tell WCTV they're frustrated.

Not every pool is open, and those that are take many precautions.

Local pools are focused on capacity and social distancing.

Mindy Zapien, the Community Manager at Southwood Residential, says when that pool first reopened, it followed the governor's initial guidelines for restaurants, staying at 25% capacity.

The pool is now using Sign Up Genius to allow residents to choose time slots; Zapien says those fill up quickly.

"There's five two hour time slots throughout the day, starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 9:00 p.m., and then there's 30 minutes in between each spot to allow our attendants to then go in and sanitize all the pool furniture, the hand rails, drinking fountains," said Zapien.

The management team in Sotuhwood worked with the board to open under certain policies, including those two hour reservations, no guests allowed and extensive cleaning procedures.

"We knew when we had to tell residents that we couldn't open in April, this was going to be hard!" said Zapien. "This is the hub of our community, and one thing we're really proud of here in Southwood, is our community."

Piney-Z resident Tiffany Hallmark says she and her neighbors are upset that their pool isn't open.

"It's pretty frustrating, that was one of the reasons why we picked this neighborhood, because of the swimming pool," said Hallmark. "No virus is sustainable in pools, the CDC even says the same thing"

Hallmark says the decision was made by the five person Board of Supervisors of the Piney-Z CDD, and she doesn't feel it was communicated well.

"They could've at least given us some kind of heads up, and asked the residents' opinions, since we're the ones that are paying for the pool to be open," said Hallmark.

Only one City of Tallahassee pool is currently open, with strict rules.

"We've opened up one City pool at this time, it's the Trousdell Aquatic center," said Ashley Edwards, the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Tallahassee. "But it's only open for lap swimming, or water walking."

Visits to Trousdell require reservations.

The Piney Z Board of Supervisors Chair Gerry Cashin provided WCTV with a statement:

"The governing board of the Piney-Z Community Development District, a local government entity created pursuant to Chapter 190, Florida Statutes, has our residents‘ health and safety at the forefront of all decisions it has made during the COVID-19 crisis The board made the decision to follow the City of Tallahassee’s lead on whether/when to open our activity pool. It is our understanding that all of the City’s pools are closed until further notice, with the exception of one lap pool that is allowing lap swimmers by reservation only. If the City decides it is safe to open its activity pools, we will do the same."

Hallmark says the pool is not an activity pool, and she believes there are many ways to stay safe at a pool during the pandemic.

"For example, take away the chairs, and have people bring their own chairs from home," said Hallmark.

The City of Tallahassee does not yet have a target date for opening the rest of its pools, or opening Trousdell to more than the exercise-based swimming.