As the Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center gears up for its reopening on June 29, commissioners and Executive Director Mitch Everton are still working out exactly what that will look like.
When the center opens, occupancy will be limited to 25% and the gym portion will be closed until Phase 3 of the state’s Safe Start plan.
During the weekends, all six lanes of the pool will be allocated to lap swim and each lane limited to two swimmers, Everton said. The weekday schedule allocates four lanes to laps, two to Thunderbird Aquatic Club masters and swim lessons or water walking in the shallow area. The reduced programming is in line with what other pools in the region are doing, Everton said.
He and the Anacortes High School swim coach are still discussing the upcoming swim season.
“I think this is still a really fluid situation,” Everton said.
All six lanes are reserved from 3 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays in late August, but social distancing requirements may force the team to be smaller than usual, only allowing for three swimmers on each lane.
“Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll know what’s going on with the swim season,” Everton said. “It’s still really unclear how they would do meets, and especially the district regional meet.”
It’s possible meets will be virtual with teams swimming at their home pools and submitting times online.
Under state reopening guidelines, pools cannot open the locke room showers for patrons, but county guidelines require pools to have operating showers available to prevent waterborne illness. The path forward is unclear at this time, Everton said.
In-person fitness classes are limited to five people or fewer in a class, but Everton intends to offer the same classes streamed live online for more to participate from home. The commissioners discussed the possibility of loaning exercise equipment to people taking part in online fitness classes.
“If somebody wanted to come in and borrow some barbells, we could certainly make that available to them,” Everton said.
May financials showed the pool was short of budget by $63,000 in revenue and $29,000 in expense.
“I don’t see a whole lot of meaning in these numbers,” Everton said. “The only comment I would make is when our PPP loan is forgiven, that’s revenue.”
The PPP loan is what has allowed the pool center to keep its employees.
Meanwhile, ARC Architects sent new floor plans for the city and pool’s proposed joint community center featuring a new pool and space for the Boys & Girls Club and parks department arrived, and the two governing bodies are waiting for a cost estimate on the plan.
The building is roughly 90,000 square feet, Commissioner Jeremy McNett said. His guess is it will cost between $50 million and $60 million.
“We’re going to get the cost estimate back and see if my shoot-from-the-hip estimate is correct, and then we’ll basically meet back with the city, present it to them, and if it’s something they want to pursue then we gotta figure out how we’re going to do it,” McNett said.
A shared concern in thinking about the community center is the lingering impact of COVID-19, McNett said.
“This is a high-volume building. Are people going to be excited to come back? Is there going to be COVID-19 memory?” McNett said. “It’s important to understand and think about it because it affects our proforma and whether or not we can service any debt on a huge, huge building. I don’t think we can raise $60 million in donations.”
The possibility of applying for grants has been discussed, Everton said. The original timeline of the joint discussions between the city and pool outlined July as the month for a decision on pursuing a joint project. But complications from the pandemic have affected the timeline. The cost of the facility and interest from the community will play a part, McNett said.
“What does the funding environment look like; can we even raise the money?” McNett said. “Is this something we need to shelve for two years and let everything kind of blow over and have people get excited about life again and build momentum back up in a couple years? I don’t know.”