GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a season without swimmers, Grand Rapids city pools at Richmond, Martin Luther King and Briggs parks will open next week, just in time for the end of the school year and start of the summer heat.
The city’s three pools and 14 splash pads will open to the public starting Friday, June 11. Pools will be open daily through Aug. 21 and splash pads through Sept. 12.
For Miguel Correa and his family, a dip in the Richmond Park pool will carry on a tradition that started when he was 10 years old.
“Me and my friend Jesse lived over here. Use to come every year, every summer,” Correa said.
For Megan Groenwold and her family, a swim in the pool will be the start of a new tradition.
“It will feel good to get back to life, back to swimming, back to all of the fun stuff,” Groenwold said.
It’s been about 21 months since we’ve heard the sounds of kids splashing in a city pool. The coronavirus pandemic shut down the cool-off last year.
But this year, city crews are getting the pools ready for what’s expected to be a busy summer.
“The mushroom fountain and the whale are freshly painted up as well,” said Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department Director David Marquardt as he viewed the pre-opening activity around the Richmond Park pool.
“The good thing about a year off is that it gives us a chance to address those kinds of things that we otherwise wouldn’t have time to do.”
And while some pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the city is still taking precautions.
Pools will close for an hour between daily sessions to sanitize everything inside and out. Unvaccinated people will have to wear a face mask when inside the locker rooms.
Since kids 12 and under can’t be vaccinated, capacity will be restricted at each pool.
“To ensure our locker room are not overcrowded and not overbearing with a number of individuals at one time. And we want to give enough space in our pools as well for swimmers to be able to give a little distance between themselves,” Marquardt said.
But don’t worry about being turned away if pools are over capacity. The city has developed an app that will tell you when there’s room to jump in.
The app will be available early next week on the Parks and Recreation website.
“Families can check from their home, they can check from their cars. Even if they’re in the park wanting to go for a swim, they can check real time the availability of swimming slots,” Marquardt said.
Admission for city pools is $1 for city residents 17 and under, $3 for residents over 17, $3 for nonresidents 17 and under, $5 for nonresidents over 17. Splash pads are free to use.
While cash will still be accepted, a cashless system will also be available.
Punch cards and season passes for families are also available.
The city noted it’s still hiring staff for this year’s pool season. Those who are interested can apply online.