While Governor Ducey’s newest Executive Order allows public pools and gyms to open May 13 under Arizona Department of Health Services guidelines, the city of Surprise is maintaining closures of Surprise Aquatic Center, Hollyhock Pool, the gym at the Surprise Senior Center, and all recreation centers until further notice. This is due to budget impacts and the ability to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
While not a pool, many residents have asked about splash pads as part of this new Executive Order. The city-run splash pads remain closed as well. Most splash pads have play features that are touched often, and the water is not chlorinated. Additionally, there is the potential of drawing crowds to a small area that may not allow for appropriate physical distancing.
The Governor’s Executive order limits the congregation of groups of 10 or more persons when feasible and in relation to the size of the location. It also states that all individuals in public areas should maximize physical distance from others.
The city is taking public health and our fiscal responsibility seriously as we look at a reopening plan. We must consider budget impacts related to COVID-19 to see what amenities we can afford to open. We must also adhere to health and safety recommendations by the CDC and orders from the governor’s office.
Opening our pools takes staff, including coaches and lifeguards, and chemical costs to treat the water. The fees we charge our residents for recreation programs don’t recover the true costs to operate as we see these as quality of life amenities for our city. When an economic downturn affects our budget, we must balance these amenity costs with the life-saving public safety costs of police, fire, ambulance and essential city services like water, sewer and trash. Our residents can count on these essential services to remain uninterrupted.
The city is working on a phased reopening plan that will consider budget impacts, potential gathering numbers and the ability to physical distance. More information will be available soon on what residents can expect at different phases of reopening.
Surprise is known as being big on sports and recreation, and we look forward to gathering in fun and safety again when the time is right.