PINE ISLAND — After a long discussion, the Pine Island City Council on Tuesday voted to close its swimming pool due to concerns over how to socially distance.

City Administrator Elizabeth Howard explained that while there are no current guidelines from the state for opening swimming pools, the Centers for Disease Control recommends steps such as socially distancing in the pool and on the pool deck, sanitizing surfaces each night, and having workers wear face masks.

"I don’t think people understand all the thought and work that goes into it," Howard said. "It’s not just opening the pool."

For example, lifeguards would not be able to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and would need to be trained on new life-saving techniques before the pool could open.

Public Works Director Todd Robertson said that while there are cities all around making decisions in both direction, opening the pool would be difficult. "We have to make sure everyone is healthy and safe, and that includes my staff," he said.

The city council briefly considered coming back in another week to make the decision, hoping for new guidance from the governor, but eventually voted to close the pool unless clear guidance comes from St. Paul that makes it possible to open the pool safely.

The pool, which re-opened last year after a reconstruction project, will still be filled with water to test and operate the equipment, Robertson said.

In other business:

  • While the city council is still working on an ordinance for food trucks on public property, the council did allow David and Megan Hewitt to operate a trailer in front of their yet-to-be-opened ice cream shop at 115 S. Main Street. The Hewitts have been planning to open a new ice cream eatery, but have been thwarted by the closure of restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The council agreed that any current brick-and-mortar shop in the city would be allowed to operate a vending truck or trailer in front of its business location.
  • Also, Pine Island Schools Superintendent Tammy Champa told the city council that it has finalized plans for a graduation parade ceremony. The parade will start at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Collins Park then proceed east on Third Street Northwest to Main Street where it will turn south before turning east again on Seventh Street Southeast before ending up in the softball field parking lot for golf cart pickup.
  • Finally, the city council approved a new liquor ordinance that will allow for the on- and off-sale of alcoholic beverages from tap houses and breweries. The move was made in anticipation of the opening later this year of SouthXSoutheast Minnesota Brewery.



A wet or dry summer

Around Southeast Minnesota, several cities are still waiting to decide whether to open their swimming pools this summer or keep them closed. Here's a breakdown of some cities around Rochester.

• Austin: Pool closed for 2020.

• Byron: No decision yet.

• Plainview: Pool closed for 2020.

• Red Wing: Pools closed for 2020.

• Rochester: Pools closed for 2020.

• Stewartville: No decision yet.

• St. Charles: No decision yet.

• Wabasha: Pools closed for 2020.