City discusses reopening public facilities, but pools likely to remain closed

The JDHS swim team practices at Augustus Brown Swimming Pool, Aug. 19, 2015.
The JDHS swim team practices at Augustus Brown Swimming Pool, Aug. 19, 2015. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Juneau’s public pools aren’t likely to open anytime soon, but the libraries and city museum could open as soon as next week.

Now that Phase II of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s reopening plan has gone into effect, pools and libraries across the state are permitted to reopen.

During a special Assembly meeting Monday, Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove said that even before the closures happened, downtown’s Augustus Brown Pool was scheduled to close June 15 for renovation.

“It didn’t make sense to us to ramp it up and then ramp it back down, though we are certainly happy to have that discussion with the Assembly,” Cosgrove said.

Dimond Park Aquatic Center will not be ready to reopen until at least June 1 since it’s in the middle of a deep clean.

“Because of course nobody expected the governor to open the pools this quick,” Cosgrove said. “That was a bit of a surprise to us.”

She said there are also a number of health guidelines and restrictions that need to be examined. The state guidance for pools says staff capacity shouldn’t exceed 50 % and patrons should observe social distancing in and out of the water.

Cosgrove said some of the restrictions may not make it cost effective to reopen Dimond Park.

Assembly member Michelle Hale said she’s worried about seniors and people with physical disabilities who rely on the pools for exercise.

“I’m pretty acutely aware of some of the mental health and emotional effects of this, you know, this hunkering down that we’ve been doing and not seeing people,” Hale said. “And also, the very real health effects of people not able to get exercise because they’ve lost that avenue.”

As for Juneau’s three public libraries and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Cosgrove said staff are still working on reopening plans, but may be able to open by next week.

“They too have some cleaning requirements that they need to work around and some capacity issues,” Cosgrove said.

The Dimond Park Field House, the Zach Gordon Youth Center and the Mount Jumbo Gym remain closed.

City parks and the Jensen-Olson Arboretum are still open to the public.

During the meeting, most of the Assembly appeared to support following the Governor’s reopening plan as long as it makes sense for Juneau and the community doesn’t see a spike in cases of COVID-19.

It also agreed to allow Mayor Beth Weldon and Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski to write a letter to the Governor detailing their thoughts about travel in and outside of Alaska and other aspects of his plan.

They will present the letter to the rest of the Assembly on Wednesday during the Finance Committee meeting for approval.


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