Watertown summer pools wrapping up season

Aug. 20—WATERTOWN — This summer's unpredictable wet weather has put a bit of a damper on the city's pool program this season.

Alex LaVine, lead supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department's program, blames a dip in pool usage on what has been a rainy summer in the north country.

Final tallies for pool attendance will be put together once the season ends. The city operates pools at Thompson Park and the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

But LaVine has noticed attendance was down this summer.

Despite more than 20 days with rain, both pools remained opened and did not close because of the weather. Only a lightening storm would cause that.

"It's a short season, so we want to make sure we're open," she said.

The pool season is wrapping up. The schedule for the end of the season was announced on Thursday.

"It's been a good season," Parks Superintendent Scott M. Weller said.

The Alteri Pool at fairgrounds will close for the season on Friday, while the Thompson Park pool is closing on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

Check the city's website and the Parks and Recreation Department's Facebook page for the exact schedule because two concerts and the availability of lifeguards will shut the two pools for a few days before the season ends.

Like last year, more people went swimming at Thompson Park than at the fairgrounds.

LaVine thinks that pool-goers can make a whole day at the park by going to the zoo and having a picnic.

The parks department will be adding a third pool next summer. Work has begun on a new $3.9 million pool at the North Elementary School and is expected to be ready to open for the 2024 summer season.

This summer, the city started charging fees for people living outside of Watertown. The fees went into effect on July 18, a few weeks after the two pools opened for the summer.

Life guards needed to be trained on the software so cash and credit card information can be taken from swimmers.

Pool staff did a good job letting the public know about the fees before they went into effect, Weller said.

"It went smoother than I thought it would," LaVine said.

The fees are $3 for a daily rate, $2 per person for the group rate, $30 for a season pass for an individual, $90 for a season pass for a family of four and $15 for each additional person.

On a pleasant summer day last week, the Thompson Park pool was full of swimmers, mostly children taking a dip in the L-shaped pool.

Jocelyn Sampson brought her year-old twins, Elijah and Nathan, with the help of the boy's grandmother, Dorothy Sampson.

After spending some time in the water, the boys were wrapped up in beach jackets to keep warm. The young mother wants to get the boys comfortable with going into water before getting some swim lessons for them at the Watertown Family YMCA, she said.

"They do like the water," their grandmother said.

Briana K. West sat on a towel near the pool while she watched her kids and nieces enjoy the water, too.

"It looked like they're having a good time," she said.

Sunday was the last senior swim at the pool, while swimmers will have one final opportunity to for a session of laps at the fairgrounds pool on Thursday.