Repaired and refilled pool to open by mid-July

Snap on your goggles and squirm into your spandex because the community pool is preparing to reopen after its seven-month closure. The exact opening date is still to be determined, but Parks and Recreation staff are aiming to welcome swimmers back to the facility in the first half of July.

After the pool closed for maintenance Nov. 28, department staff discovered a leak near its center. The monthslong process of hiring a contractor and performing repairs extended the closure.

Last week, maintenance staff Lane Fitzjarrald filled the pool with about 200,000 gallons of water in a process that took roughly 24 hours. Since the town's water supply comes from area muskeg, it has been dyed green by plant material, but the color will fade as Fitzjarrald adds salt and chlorine. "It's natural," he said of the hue. "People are pretty amazed by the green water, but in the end it's still really clear. It smells clean, it doesn't smell like a pond. ... We start off with really fresh rainwater."

If all goes according to plan, he hopes to have the water ready for lifeguards to train in by Friday, June 30. "The truth is that it's a priority," he said, "and the only thing I'm working on right now, to get this pool ready. I'm on it like eight hours a day."

Once the pool's temperature and chemical balance are correct, Parks and Recreation Director Lucy Robinson will hold a multi-day training for new and returning lifeguards.

"We want to be able to show that we are properly trained and our lifeguards have some certain level of endurance," she said. "So, it's going to take a little bit. We haven't had water for at least seven months and I want to ensure that the community is safe. Safety is the most important component aside from the water chemistry."

The upcoming training effort is part of the reason that the pool's exact reopening date remains indefinite. The department has a lot of park maintenance work on its plate as the Fourth of July approaches and Robinson wants the pool's lifeguards-in-training to be able to enjoy the holiday. Training and onboarding will likely take place once the festivities are over.

"I know the public has been waiting," she said. "We want to thank the community of Wrangell for their patience. Everybody has just been so kind coming in and asking the questions but also being reasonable humans when it comes to recognizing that in many ways, our hands were tied with this project. A lot of things came up as we went along that needed to be addressed."

The Public Works Department and Capital Facilities Director Amber Al-Haddad were also instrumental in bringing about the repairs.

"It feels so good to have water in the pool

 

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