‘We Have A Summer!’ Rec Comm OKs Opening Underwood Pool For Summer Season June 23

Photo: Throwback Thursday, the Underwood Pool in 2019.

We have a summer! Let’s go!” said an excited Brandon Fitts, assistant director of Recreation, after the Recreation Commission voted unanimously to approve Belmont Recreation’s blueprint to open the Underwood Pool for a summer season at the Commission’s Wednesday, March 24 meeting.

The summer pool season will run from June 23 to the first of September according to Fitts, who led the plan for reopening the Underwood.

Residents can go to the Rec Department’s web page for more basic information on the coming swimming season beginning Monday, March 29, according to Fitts.

The opening comes after the pool was closed for the 2020 season due to the emergence of the coronavirus and uncertainties due to strict limits on participation – at the time 25 percent of capacity – and the town being uncertain it could recoup the expenses of operation at less than capacity.

And while there remains a cap on how many patrons will be able to come onto the site, it will be sufficient – even in a worst-case scenario – to meet its targeted break-even point of $290,000, said Fitts.

The start date for obtaining memberships remains up in the air as Fitts said the department needs to resolve some software issues with the registration system and will need to ramp up the office for what is traditionally a very busy first week of selling swimming passes.

Because there will be a smaller number of passes than years past, Belmont residents will have about a month when they can purchase family and individual passes before sales are open to non-residents beginning June 1.

Now under the state’s latest reopening plan (Phase 4, Step 1), pools can open for business at 50 percent capacity; in Belmont that would be 165 participants at any one time. Fitts told the commissioners Belmont Recreation is hopeful the state will increase the percentage this summer to 65 percent which would allow 215 people at the pool.

In the 50 percent capacity protocol, the town will sell 520 family passes and 107 individual passes while under 65 percent capacity, 625 family passes, and 125 individual passes sold.

During the season, residents will have the opportunity to reserve two 2-hour “blocks” per week, but if there are blocks with openings, residents can “theoretically could access [the pool] more than two ties a week, you’re just guaranteed it,” said Fitts.

On the safety front, Jon Marshall, assistant Town Administrator and director of the Recreation Department told the commissioners his department will use the same attendance tracking system at the pool as they had with public skaters at the town’s rink this winter.

On arrival at the pool, swimmers will sign a document verifying they do not have COVID symptoms and haven’t been in contact with anyone infected. If there is a reported positive case at the pool, everyone who was in the same block of time would be contacted, said Marshall, noting that there were no COVID-related incidents at the rink.

“I talk all the time with Diane [Ekman] and Wes [Chin] of the Health Department and fill them in … so certainly they’re aware of everything and we follow their guidance,” said Fitts.

The fee schedule is set as:

Resident Season Passes

  • Family membership: $305
  • Individual: $110

Resident Day Passes

  • Adult: $15
  • Child: $10

Nonresident Day Passes

  • Adult: $25
  • Child: $20

Nonresident Season Passes

  • Family membership: $610
  • Individual: $220