Omaha's Swim Season Ending As Weather Heats Up

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

Sunday marked the end of the swim season for most city pools in Omaha. The closures, one week early, are part of an effort to save money for the city. However, four pools are still open as the weather heats up, thanks to private donations.

The parks still open through Sunday, August 9th are Hitchcock, Elmwood, Miller Park and Oak Heights.

However two pools, Mockingbird Heights and Morton, never opened at all this season. They required extensive repairs and were shut down indefinitely.

Not far away from Morton, at Upland Water Playground, 30th and Jefferson, 6-year-old Jaime Soto ran through spray equipment Monday. He and his family are cooling off the best way they can. "It's like the only thing open in here," the boy said.

The closure of Morton Pool has been hard on grandfather Epi Hernandez this summer. He normally walks there with his grandchildren. This year, they had to settle for a drive to his son’s apartment pool.

"There are a lot of kids in this area and I don't know, I'm pretty sure they're pretty sad because I'm sure they wanted to swim."

Over at Hitchcock, 45th and Q, Michelle Rotundo splashed around with her 2-year-old daughter. "Well, I just kind of feel bad for the kids. It hasn't even really been a hot summer yet and they don't have really, one of two pools to go to."

It’s actually four pools. Anonymous donations to the tune of $7,500 helped keep Hitchcock and Elmwood pools open an extra week. Other donors, including businessman Phil Morrison, helped keep Miller Park open.

"I think whoever helped up here keeping the pool open, they did a good thing," said Stephanie Grabenschroer of Omaha. The mother of eight drove to Hitchcock from west Omaha. She said kids need something to do in the couple of weeks before school begins.

"It's supposed to be hot this weekend and it's supposed to be hot next week again and these kids aren't gonna have nowhere to go swim and stuff."

They and other water lovers have to wait and see if the city can pool enough money to return to normal next year. "I hope they can figure something out and this doesn't end up being one of the ones that gets closed or something," said Rotundo.

Under Mayor Jim Suttle’s current budget proposal, all 17 of Omaha’s pools would remain open the entire season next year. However, the city does not plan to re-open Morton or Mockingbird pools.

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Scarpello said neighborhoods may re-open those pools instead.

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