Cruel summer? | Wilmington's mayor hints the city's pools may not open due to COVID-19 restrictions


Sean Greene

Governor John Carney gave the go-ahead for Delaware's pools to open with limited capacity at the start of summer, but Wilmington's mayor may be turning off the water.

At a Wilmington Town Hall meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Mike Purzycki said he wasn't sure that limited capacity at city pools would be the right answer.

"We've got to be sure that it's safe for us to open up the pools given the strict limitations. Maybe, we just take a close look at what is happening in the city and decide to do something differently."

Wilmington currently operates the Eden Park, Joseph R. Biden (formerly Prices Run), Hicks Anderson, Foster Brown, and P.S. duPont Middle School pools.

Last year, they were open from from June 24 through August 17.

Community pools are allowed to be opened at 5 p.m. Friday, but are limited to 20% of regular capacity with no swim lessons or team practices permitted.

It is possible that later phases of Delaware's reopening plan could increase capacity.

Pools must also submit a plan for monitoring potential COVID-19 cases.

Purzycki said a more important plan is trying to sort out what to do with city youth, who have been taking part in virtual learning for the last two months, but are about to break into summer.

"Now we're going to send them into a summer where it's hot, and it's hard for me to believe they're going to stick into the house. We ought to be thinking about what we can do where they have a healthful summer where they have some personal growth. We don't want them to be stifled too much."

Budgeting will be an issue, especially with the city expected to lose several million dollars in revenue due to having less wage tax payers at the moment.

Purzycki said deciding what to cut will be tough, and places like the Hicks Anderson Center will be key to the recovery of Wilmington's kids.

"We have a summer youth program we do every year, we have a summer employment program we have to manage this year where young kids go out to earn $10 an hour for jobs that are helping them to grow. These are challenges that we have to deal with right now, and I will tell you there are no easy answers.

Purzycki challenged city council members to go into their communities and sort out what programs their residents find most important.

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