Local pools are being filled, lifeguards being hired, and new safety protocols put into place. Ulster County residents will have places to cool off, swim, exercise and enjoy the outdoors this summer after all.
It was announced last Saturday that the Ulster County Pool in New Paltz would be open from July 4 and run through Labor Day on September 7. Moriello Pool and Park, owned jointly by the town and village of New Paltz, is slated to open this week, as early as Tuesday, June 30 or Wednesday, July 1.
“We had the pool filled and Bill [Russell, the Moriello Pool director] and I have been talking daily about how we would open and what it might look like,” said New Paltz town supervisor Neil Bettez. “Then the governor announced last week that we could open so we’re working as fast as we can. We hired our lifeguards, we are getting the chemicals in the pools, the grounds ready, and Bill has been working steadily on all of the things that need to be done and serviced and repaired to get the pool infrastructure ready for summer.
Local officials are still putting safety protocols in place. Both pools are reducing their occupancy numbers by half — with Moriello maxing out at 250 patrons and Ulster County at 325 (down from a 500- and 700-person capacity respectively). All patrons will be asked to socially distance from those who are not part of their immediate family or friends.
“We’re asking people to be patient with us,” said Bettez. “We’re trying to figure this out as safely as we can, but still allow people to enjoy their summer, have a supervised place to swim and be outdoors.” Moriello will sell family memberships to residents and non-residents but will only allow day passes for New Paltz residents. “Not everyone can afford a seasonal membership and may only use the pool on a really hot day, so we need to have the option available to them.”
The opening of the county pool on Libertyville Road will help alleviate the number of people and spread bathers out between the two pools. The Hurley Recreation pool is planning on opening as well, The pool in Rosendale still sits empty.
“We’re so excited to be able to provide people with some normalcy this summer,” said Ulster County executive Pat Ryan, who had said that the pool closure was announced months ago “when things looked very different than they do now.”
After the governor announced that community and private pools could open, water started flowing into the 50-meter Ulster County Pool. “It’s one of the most important resources we provide our residents,” said Ryan. “And we heard from a lot of people who rely on that pool and were so disappointed that it might not open. Children, families, adults, seniors all depend on our municipal pool to be able to exercise and get outdoors, especially when it’s as hot as it’s been recently!”
Only Ulster County residents will be able to utilize the pool this summer. Capacity has been reduce by half. There will be no swim lessons this summer due to the proximity required to provide those lessons. At Moriello Pool bathroom use will be limited to four people at a time, and patrons are being asked not to use the restroom facilities to change or to shower.
The playground at Moriello will remain open for kids to use. “The governor said that playgrounds can open and this will help to keep people spread out if some are on the playground and some are in the pool,” said Bettez. “We will have hand sanitizer for people to use, but that will be their choice to allow their kids to utilize the playground or not. We are also working with the people who run the concession stand to see if we could do something there,” said the supervisor.
Patrons at both pools must wear masks when entering the facility and follow the CDC’s Covid-19 social distancing and hygiene guidelines. The Ulster County Pool is also requiring that temperatures be taken prior to entering the facility. “If the numbers continue to go down, we will make adjustments as we go and follow directions from our health commissioner and public-health team,” said Ryan.
Ryan and Bettez pointed to the importance of their constituents having affordable, supervised access to swimming, which helps to prevent accidental drowning, is a safe way to exercise, be outdoors, relieve stress, and soak in some summer nourishment. “It’s also a great source of employment for many of our youth,” said Bettez.
The region has experienced sweltering temperatures during the past week. There was also a tragic accidental drowning at an unsupervised swimming hole involving an 18-year-old Kingston High School graduate in High Falls last weekend.
The Ulster County Pool will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is located at 241 Libertyville Road. The office number is 255-7027.
The Moriello Pool plans to be open from noon until 7:30 p.m. daily and is located off Mulberry Street in the Village of New Paltz. The office number is 255-1700. Memberships are currently being sold at the gate. Family memberships are $190 and non-resident family memberships are $280.