ROCHESTER, MN - Rochester pools closed due to safety concerns will reopen to the community on June 14.
City officials say after fights broke out, kids were left unattended and there was a disregard for pool rules the Parks and Recreation Department felt it was necessary for the safety of the community to close until a plan could be set in place.
Soldiers Field Pool and Silver Lake Pool Pools will reopen on Monday with additional summer staff members on hand to help maintain crowds and answer questions. Community organizations have offered to visit the pools and interact with participants. Rochester Police Department School Resource Officers will have an occasional presence at the pools throughout the summer to interact with the youth and families and to help ensure a safe and fun experience.
City Council member Shaun Palmer says capacity will be limited and the community will need to sign up before going to the facilities. He explained, "I believe right now they're going to be doing the 300 limit and they're emphasizing that you need to sign up ahead of time so you need to get a reservation so we know how many people are going to be there."
The city is asking for the community's help to reopen safely as another closure could still happen if the same behavior happens again.
Palmer added, "Safety was the number one issue and we had people bringing alcohol in, we had people with glass containers which you can't have in the pool, we had people yelling and screaming at the lifeguards which takes away their focus, their only focus which is the kids in the pool. It just became really hard. It was a small group but we needed to react to that."
This is the first year free admission is being offered after the pools were closed due to COVID last year. The city says it's not sure freed admission will be offered next year as it costs an average of $80,000.
Parks & Recreation Director Paul Widman shares, “I want to thank the community for their patience as we have worked to provide a safe environment at both of the pools. In addition, we want to acknowledge the Rochester Swim Club and other community partners in supporting this activity. We look forward to welcoming the community back and ask that everyone help us by following the guidelines and rules. Safety is our top priority.”
According to the city:
Registration for both pools is required. Registering online in advance is recommended and will be available starting June 11, 2021. If community members or visitors need assistance with registering for a session, please call the Parks & Recreation department at 507-328-2525.