The place to be: Grundy Center pool staying busy in post-COVID world

Swimmers gather outside of the Grundy Family Aquatic Center on Friday afternoon just before opening time. Due to COVID-19, the capacity has been reduced to 125 for the rest of the 2020 season. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo)
Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY CENTER- If you want to get into the Grundy Family Aquatic Center for a day of swimming, it’s best to show up early.


Lines have accumulated daily over the last few weeks as the pool limits its occupancy to 125 (the normal capacity is 435) at a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and manager Chris Bangasser and her staff have been working closely with public health officials to keep the premises as safe as possible for all who visit.


“Overall, in talking to (Mayor) Al (Kiewiet) and talking to several council members, we’re fine. We won’t go higher than 125. We’re not looking to increase anymore,” Bangasser said.


Bangasser admitted that she had initial concerns about the practicality of management and lifeguards enforcing social distancing rules, but she received assurance that it is the job of the patrons who come to the pool to follow those guidelines. The GFAC has also removed its concessions and is not providing beach chairs due to concerns about having to wipe them down after every use.


She also noted that while there are unique challenges presented by the new normal, her staff members have stepped up to meet them.


After a recent complaint at a meeting, the city council discussed the possibility of restricting pool access to residents of Grundy Center, the school district or Grundy County only but ultimately opted against it, citing enforcement difficulties and the opportunity to showcase the pool as others around the area are closed.


“Those ideas about only letting certain people (in), those sound really good in theory, but I just don’t know how you would manage them,” Bangasser said. “With anything else that people choose to go to or choose not to go to, it just comes down to, they just have to do what they feel comfortable doing.”


How long the pool will stay open depends on the schedule of the staff, but Bangasser hopes to keep going as long as they can keep guards, which she predicts as sometime between August 10 and 20. If an individual who swims at the pool or an employee is confirmed to have a positive case of COVID-19, the facility will shut down temporarily for commercial deep cleaning before reopening. There are no plans, however, to shut down for the season in the event of a positive case.


The GFAC has been closing every day from 4 to 5:00 p.m. for additional cleaning. Bangasser remains in close contact with Grundy County Public Health and plans to consult with all local and state guidelines moving forward.


“We are doing extra. We’re wiping down the handrails on the slides, anything that water doesn’t rush over and all the areas in (the bathhouse) twice a day as opposed to once,” she said. “I think you can find 100 people who don’t think we should be open at all, and I think you can find 100 people who think we should be letting 400 people in and are upset when they can’t get in. So, it’s just all about what everybody is comfortable with.”



The Grundy Register

601 G. Avenue - P.O. Box 245
Grundy Center, IA 50638
Telephone: 1-319-824-6958
Fax: 1-800-340-0805

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit for more information.