Whether Troll Beach opens or not this summer, the city of Stoughton likely will take on a financial hit of at least $10,000 from its budget.
As a result, the Stoughton Park and Recreation Committee has decided to wait to vote on whether to open the swimming area in Mandt Park on July 1.
Dan Glynn, parks and recreation director, told the committee at its Tuesday, May 19, meeting that if Troll Beach does not open this year, it will have a $10,728 loss.
If the beach does open, the losses could be even greater, as the city would be required to hire an additional employee and purchase extra COVID-19 disinfection supplies. Glynn projected opening during Phase I of the Badger Bounce Back plan – which could be as early as the end of May – would have the city losing more than $45,000 from budget but opening at Phase I and switching to Phase II (no sooner than mid-June) would soften the loss to about $22,000.
The committee postponed a decision for about two weeks, to allow more time to weigh the financial challenges and additional staffing needs. It plans to hold a special meeting on possibly opening Troll Beach in about two weeks.
“There is no way we will be able to hit our budgeted number,” Glynn said. “Our budget is based on $7,000 or $8,000 in revenue, not just an expense line.”
The committee struggled with weighing the need to provide an outlet for children along with the increased cost and risk of the spread of COVID-19.
If the beach opens, the city will have to hire an extra employee who will be required to monitor social distancing and help disinfect certain areas. That would cost $133 per day, Glynn said, which would come out to $9,000 for the season on top of the estimated shortfalls in the budget to have the beach open.
“If it’s $2,000 in loss, I’m OK with that because the community needs this,” said Regina Hirsch, the committee vice chair. “If it’s an $8,000 or $10,000 loss that’s a lot scarier.”
If Troll Beach opens, Glynn said, the department will have to post social distancing signs and mark off spaces six feet apart. The beach would have two open time slots of 2 hours and 15 minute for 250 users to sign up online. After the first session, lifeguards would disinfect the beach area and then reopen.
Dane County’s phased reopening plan, called Forward Dane, does not limit the number of visitors to a beach like a pool does, but Glynn said to make it safe and manageable, the beach should open in shifts at half capacity.
Licensed swimming pools are limited to 25% of normal capacity during Phase I, 50% in Phase II and 75% in Phase III. The three phases will be a minimum of two weeks apart, according to the plan. Glynn noted inflatable play structures would not be allowed until Phase II, which would be no later than mid-June and possibly July.
“Without the play structures for half the year, will we have the demand?” Glynn questioned. “There is a financial risk to it.”
Six of the 15 lifeguards at Troll Beach also need to get recertified. With schools closed until June 30, many of the lifeguards didn’t have access to a Red Cross course to get certified.
Glynn said nine lifeguards is not enough to open Troll Beach.
Hirsch said there’s a need to provide entertainment for children in Stoughton.
“There is nothing for children to do, and the parents will be pulling their hair out,” Hirsch said.