Storms, flooding cool pool business

July 17, 2013
The number of swimmers was down despite the hot and humid weather at Town Park’s swimming pool in Canonsburg Wednesday. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop suitable for swimming” would have been a fitting adage for public pools so far this summer.

Ever since storms, floods and torrential downpours swept through the area and washed away potential customers last week, pool managers are hoping that hot weather will lure in some sun-seeking swimmers.

“I expect whopping business today,” James Reynolds, manager of Canonsburg Town Park Pool, said Wednesday. “When the weather gets to be 90, people come to the pool.”

Yet Reynolds said business took a major hit because of the cold, dreary days in June, followed by the string of storms that ravaged the area. Thunder also tends to plunder business because swimmers must evacuate the pool at any audible sign of an oncoming storm. Reynolds said Tuesday was a frustrating day because the sky kept rumbling, but it never rained.

“We lost four hours and we don’t have a rain check policy,” he said.

Reynolds, like other pool managers, doubts that any number of sunny July and August days could make up for lost revenue.

“It was a miserable couple of weeks,” he said. “We’re not going to get the business we had last year.”

Reynolds said the pool sold just 655 pool passes so far this year, compared to 1,100 last year. The busiest day of the season so far was last Sunday, with 546 people stopping by for a dip.

While June is typically the busiest month in the public pool season, the erratic weather has rendered it one of the worst months for business this year.

Bill Loar, manager of Washington Park Pool, said the pool has been closed seven out of the last 20 days because of inclement weather.

“Usually June is our best month, but it’s probably been the worst June, and partially of July, that we’ve had in probably the last 10 years,” Loar said.

The maintenance crew spent two days cleaning up last week after runoff from heavy rains flowed into the pool, according to Loar.

Loar said the poor weather affects not just disappointed swimmers, but also the seasonal workers – many of whom are college-aged or younger – who lose a shift.

Like Reynolds, Loar also said “it’s going to have to be hot for a long time” to offset the low pool turnout in June and the first half of July.

Betty Abel, manager of Mineral Beach in Finleyville, said that business has picked up with the hot weather, but the pool also had to close when of storms hit.

“It’s probably like every other pool,” Abel said. “We just weren’t open.”

Abel and her husband, who own Mineral Beach, came in every morning and tried to keep the pool open until noon or 1 p.m., but when it rained, it just wasn’t possible.

Despite the poor track record, pool managers are feeling more optimistic this week as temperatures soar.

“We’ve noticed with the last couple days with the temperatures, our attendance has really picked up,” Loar said. “If we get some extremely warm weather, that would be a benefit to everybody.”

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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