The pool at the Marshall Community Center remains closed for repairs after Clark County Public Health noted that the deteriorating paint posed a risk to swimmers.
On Monday, the Vancouver City Council approved a $428,000 contract to resurface the pool. The project will also see a spray-on fiberglass coating installed on the facility’s painted surfaces, the same treatment undergone by the pool at the Firstenburg Community Center in 2018.
“The painted surface coating on Marshall pool was becoming unstable,” said Melody Burton, marketing manager for Vancouver Parks and Recreation. “In addition to addressing the current issue, a fiberglass coating would reduce annual maintenance costs and closures in the future.”
Resurfacing the Marshall Center pool had originally been slated for the 2023-24 biennium, but the city elected to move the project up because fewer people are using the pool during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Moving forward with the project during the current downturn in the industry resulting from the pandemic would allow the city to have the center fully operational after the restrictions on recreational activities are lifted,” a project document reviewed by the city council states.
The contract was awarded to California-based company Advanced Pool Coatings. According to a stipulation in the contract, the resurfacing work must be completed by July 1.
“We know that Marshall pool is a really important fitness amenity for a lot of people, so we hope to be able to provide the public with a project timeline and tentative reopening date shortly,” Burton said.
In the meantime, people can still use the Firstenburg Community Center pool in east Vancouver at 700 N.E. 136th Ave. Reservations for a time slot should be made ahead of time on Vancouver’s Parks and Recreation website.
Are pools safe during COVID?
The Marshall Community Center pool closed to the public on Jan. 30. Before that, patrons could access the pool during COVID-19 by taking advantage of a fitness pass program that helped staff control the number of people inside the facility at any given time.
According to Marissa Armstrong, senior communications specialist for Clark County Public Health, pools should follow the guidance issued by the Washington State Department of Health to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“Clark County Public Health follows these guidelines and provides this information to facilities we work with,” Armstrong wrote in an email. “We do not have any Clark County specific guidance.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Presvention hasn’t verified any scientific studies on how or if the virus travels through treated water. As such, the precautions that dictate pool safety are mostly the same as those that govern dry land.
Patrons and staff should stay at least 6 feet away from each other — “a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle,” the CDC website states — both inside and outside the water. That means they should also avoid congregating around the usual spots like diving boards, stairs and the ends of lap lanes.
Aquatic venues should set up signs or arrows to circulate foot traffic and minimize passing contact, and limit the number of people who can use the facility at a time.
Social distancing in the water is especially crucial because it’s one of the only common spaces where patrons aren’t advised to wear cloth masks.
“A wet cloth mask can make it difficult to breathe and likely will not work correctly,” CDC guidance states.
However, staff and visitors should wear a mask in common areas outside the water, including locker rooms, bathrooms and lounging areas. They’re also advised to bring a spare, in case the first one gets wet.