COVID-19 closes Dunsmuir Pool for the season

Shareen Strauss

After a monumental fundraising effort to open the community pool last year, the Dunsmuir Recreation and Parks District unanimously, though reluctantly, canceled the 2020 swimming season at their meeting last week.

They said the COVID-19 safety guidelines would be too difficult and costly to implement and cited the well being of the Dunsmuir community as reasons for the difficult decision.

“I’d have to concur with the board’s decision in the best interest of the city – especially when it comes to the kids,” said Dunsmuir City Councilor Dave Keisler.”

Keisler worked with the community last year to recruit life guards and raise funds to open the largest pool in Siskiyou County. “I’d rather play it safe than be sorry. There are lots of swimming holes, the lake and other venues for the children with water,” though he pointed out that they won’t have lifeguards.

Dunsmuir Recreation and Parks District board member Ellen McArron said in order to follow all the county’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, opening the pool would be “cost prohibitive, as far as sanitation and social distancing is concerned.”

She said only so many children would be allowed to swim at a time. Parents wouldn’t be admitted to allow for more room for kids to spread out, but the logistics and extra costs would be “outrageous.”

“We can’t control the travelers that come through that want to swim. The liability is just too high for public safety,” McArron said.

“It was a tough decision to make,” said the district’s administrator Mike Rodriguez. “With the increased cases of COVID-19 in Siskiyou County and the increase of travelers through our community, we have to take in the welfare, health and safety risks to our pool patrons.”

“It was a very difficult decision for us because we know how important this pool is to the people in this community – especially for the young people,” said pool committee and DRPD board member Will Newman. “We didn’t make this decision lightly considering the potential impact of the severity if people in our community were exposed to COVID-19.”

A banner will be placed on the pool’s fence informing the public and its visitors of the closure.

Rodriguez said the Dunsmuir pool is the largest pool in the county at 75 by 150 yards, and it is the only pool with no artificial heat. The swimmers have to be dedicated because the water temperature averages 60 to 75 degrees throughout the summer.

“The board members and I are all very saddened by this painful decision but we are going to start planning for next summer for a better and more successful swim season,” Rodriguez added.

Keisler pointed out that the Weed Community Pool at Bel Air Park is open and has lifeguards.

“We did make the right decision for the health and wellbeing of our little community,” said Keisler, adding that he’ll miss the pool this season and promised that he’d “be the first one in it next year.”