St. Charles Park District’s Otter Cove Aquatic Park was packed with people this past weekend trying to cool off as sweltering temperatures returned to the area.
“It looked more like something we would see in early July,” said Kristi Brewer, aquatics and youth programs supervisor for the St. Charles Park District.
However, before the current surge of heat, the area saw plenty of cool and wet days this season, which in turn hurt attendance at pools in central Kane County. There were several occasions this summer that the St. Charles Park District had to close portions of Otter Cove and Swanson Pool.
Swanson Pool closed for the season Aug. 20, but Otter Cove will remain open until Monday.
The region experienced several days of temperatures in the 60s or 70s in June and July. Accuweather recorded only one 90-degree temperature in June.
“We did try to keep the facilities open as much as possible, but we have to be responsive with staffing,” Brewer said.
It was a different story last summer, where the mercury hit 100 degrees or higher on four occasions and the temperature was at least 90 degrees for seven consecutive days, according to the National Weather Service.
“Last summer, every day we were extremely busy,” Brewer said.
The cool weather took a big bite out of daily attendance at Batavia Park District’s Harold Hall Quarry Beach in Batavia, which occupies a former stone quarry and features a sand-bottom swimming area.
Amber Smith, facilities manager in charge of Hall Quarry Beach, estimated that daily attendance was down about 30 percent, although she said the facility did sell as many season passes this
“It was not a good summer for us,” Smith said. “I really wish the weather would have been better for us. It was not a good summer for an outdoor pool.”
The cool summer days affected how warm Quarry Beach got.
“We had a lot of days when the water was 65 or 66 degrees,” Smith said. “That’s a little brisk.”
However, a new liner the park district installed last year to provide warmer water has helped, Smith said. Before the liner was installed, water as cold as 55 degrees was being pumped in by a well.
The liner helped the temperature of the water reach 80 degrees last season.
But this week’s hot weather will not help Quarry Beach’s season.
The facility closed Aug. 18, right before Batavia students went back to school.
“It’s a staffing issue,” Smith said. “Our lifeguards are in high school or college, and a lot of them are in sports. Because Quarry Beach has a sandy bottom and not a clear bottom, we need a minimum of 8 to 10 lifeguards at the facility.”
Geneva Park District’s Sunset Pool closed four full days this summer because of low temperatures and severe weather when compared to three days last year, said Traci Wicks, the park district’s director of marketing and public relations. Sunset Pool will close for the season Monday.
However, Wicks said the cooler days didn’t have a big impact on attendance. Sunset Pool’s attendance on a normal 80 degree-plus day can range from 700 to 1,300 people, she said.
“That remained consistent this year; we just had less days with temperatures higher than 80 degrees,” Wicks said. “If the sun is out and it’s 80 degrees, it’s still a great day for swimming.”