SLIGO – As changes were made at the state level last week, officials with the Union Council of Governments decided over the holiday weekend to reverse course and begin preparations to open the Union Pool Park in Sligo.

“When we had our meeting early last week, the regulations we were receiving from the state made it next to impossible for the pool park to be open this year without huge financial losses,” COG secretary Cathy Walzak said on Monday. “But when Gov. Wolf said Friday afternoon that Clarion County would be moved to the Green phase of the reopening plan on May 29, we received new information that will allow us to open the pool this summer.”

Walzak said that although the pool usually opens right as local schools end for the year, due to the delay in receiving word on the COVID-19 restrictions, the COG is estimating that the pool will be ready to open in about two weeks, roughly a week later than usual.

“We know recreational opportunities will be pretty limited this summer, and we wanted so badly to be open for the community, especially the many kids who spend a lot of their summers at the pool,” Walzak said. “We are going out on a limb and taking a chance so that we can be here for the community, and we’re hoping the community will return the favor and support the pool park more than usual this summer.”

To help entice swimmers to make the park their place to be this summer, and to help with those who may be struggling financially after the pandemic shutdowns, COG officials decided to offer season passes at a discounted rate, as long as they’re purchased before the pool opens.

“We have a number of loyal families who support us year after year, but this year we need many others in our community to join in to show their support,” Walzak said. “Whether you look at it as a season pass, or a donation to support one of the area’s great assets, we hope folks will come out to support the park.”

Those purchasing season passes before the pool opens will receive a $25 discount, bringing the price of a family pass down to $125 and an individual pass to $50 for residents of Sligo Borough, Monroe Township and Rimersburg Borough. Family passes for those living outside of those municipalities will be discounted to $150, from the regular $175 price; while individual passes will be discounted to $75.

Pavilion rentals are another way to support the park, Walzak said.

“We would love to fill the park this summer with all kinds of family reunions, graduation parties, bridal and baby showers, company picnics, church outings and more,” Walzak said, explaining that the four small pavilions can be rented for $125 per day, while the large pavilion is $150. “People who rent the pavilions also get a discounted $1 rate for those wishing to use the pool.”

Under the state’s new guidelines, Walzak said there are no restrictions on the numbers of people who can use the pool or pavilions, although social distancing is still encouraged.

“We will be working extra hard this summer to keep everything sanitized well at the park, and staff in the concession stand will be required to wear masks,” she said, although she noted that lifeguards are not required to wear masks, as per the state guidelines.

Once the pool is ready to open, officials said the hours will be the same as in the past, with daily swimming from 1 to 7 p.m., weather permitting, and a $5 admission price. Swimmers arriving after 5 p.m. each day can enter the pool area for only $1, and Mondays are also half-price admission days.

Private pool parties are also available at a rate of $150, and night swims are held from time to time and advertised on the Union Area COG’s Facebook page.

Walzak said that with getting a little bit of a late start, the loss of the regular attendance from the Union Summer Academy students, and additional costs related to CDC daily sanitizing requirements, the park will need to make up those financial losses.

“We’re so excited that the pool and pavilions are going to be open this year, but we’re not going to be able to make it a successful summer without the support of this area’s residents,” she said. “We hope more people will come out to the park this year to give it a try, and we are always grateful for any donations from people who want to see the park continue to provide a great place for kids and families for years to come.”

To purchase a discounted season pool pass or reserve a pavilion, call park manager Heather Marsh at (814) 316-2633, or private message her from the Union Area COG Facebook page. Once the pool is open, regular price passes can be purchased during regular business hours at the park.

Donations to the Union Council of Governments can also be made by sending a check to P.O. Box 340, Sligo, PA 16255.

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