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Many pools, water parks in Denver area reopening with fewer COVID restrictions as guidelines change

Some neighborhood, HOA pools keep limitations
Water slide
Posted at 8:08 AM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 10:08:23-04

DENVER — Sun is out, school is out and the pools are slowly opening back up around Colorado.

As life begins to return to normal and hot weather approaches, there's one question nagging many parents and kids: Will the neighborhood pools and water parks reopen this summer?

There are certainly no shortage of comments online.

Three comments read:

  • “MLB All Star game, Red Rocks concerts… and we are getting a pool at 35% availability? Maybe we should only pay 35% of our HOA," Tony wrote on the Master Community HOA Facebook page
  • “If you are afraid of COVID, stay home!!!" Jacqui wrote on the Master Community HOA Facebook page
  • “Ugh. My depression is starting now… best thing about this neighborhood … is hanging at the pool every day in the summer," Rebecca wrote on the Central Park Facebook page

This pent-up frustration is shared by many.

So, let’s dive into the summer swim debate and go 360, starting with those planning to fully open up, including Water World, America's largest water amusement park.

Spokeswoman for the park, Joann Cortez, said the park has a variety of different attractions for visitors.

All 50-plus water rides and attractions at Water World opened this past Saturday for the summer season, and they will stay open seven days a week through Labor Day weekend.

“Well,, we’re happy to say, we will have no capacity restrictions, no mask mandates in the park,” Cortez said. “This is going to be a great season. And, yes, we’re so excited, mostly because we’re a large outdoor venue – 70 acres and lots of room to spread out.”

The park is also one of the region’s largest youth employers with 1,000 seasonal workers, including more than 300 lifeguards, including Colorado State University freshman Alec Shields.

“This is my third year coming back,” Shields said. “You can’t get any better than hanging out in the sun all day, getting a tan, and just being outside. ... This is the best summer job you could have."

Denver Department of Parks & Recreation recently decided to lift all its restrictions as well.

“We’re making as many quick adjustments as we can based on the new public health orders,” said Leslie Pickard, the director of recreation for Denver Parks & Recreation.

And they’re scrambling to hire and train lifeguards.

“Our staff could not be more ecstatic about getting back to what we do best, which is recreation,” Pickard said.

Lap swimming is back, too.

“No COVID public health orders, so we’re allowing people to come in and swim,” Pickard said. “Our lap swim will actually be four people per lane, circle swimming. Get rid of the masks and trade them in for goggles.”

For mother Vanessa Almas, last year was tough. Many children missed out on a year learning to swim.

“Kids thrive on outdoor activities," she said. "I think it’s really good for them.”

Out west, the City of Golden is gearing up for a packed season on Clear Creek.

“We really wanted to plan for this 'coming back summer' where everyone could come and have fun and enjoy the water,” said Carly Lorentz, deputy city manager in Golden. “We know this is a really important resource that also is free.”

Golden will impose no capacity limitations, and this year, they’re planning to have weekend ambassadors on the creek and a red flag system warning creek users about water levels.

Lorentz said that's something they have had difficulties with in the past.

“It’s deceiving," she said. "It’s hard to tell what the risk level is. It’s not always a lazy river experience.”

But not everybody is on board. Some parents and residents throughout the Denver metro area are hesitant for pools to fully reopen, particularly HOA and community association and neighborhood pools.

Most of the Central Park pools in the old Stapleton neighborhood, for example, will offer limited capacity and reservations until noon and then open up fully at noon.

Lap swimming will also be restricted, which is drawing the ire of many online on the Central Park Facebook page, with some people calling the rules "ludicrous" and "a joke." Other people online praised the decision.

“I’m not sure I understand what everyone is complaining about,” one commenter wrote. “We’re still in a pandemic.”

At the Harmony Master HOA in Aurora, pool reservations will be in two-hour time blocks, only opening for booking two days prior.

Comments on the Master Community HOA Facebook page bristled against this decision as well, ranging from "Let’s make it known they suck and we are not going to tolerate it" to "Let the community enjoy what we pay for!"

Dr. Ben Usatch, medical director at UCHealth in Highlands Ranch, said he won't pick sides on the new rules around pools, but if a person is vaccinated and outside, they don't need a mask at the pool. He said the data is crystal clear at this point.

“Maybe it’s OK to release some of the restrictions with greater numbers in the pool with tremendous safety," he said.

Editor's Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at 360@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 360 stories here.