It’s been a hot summer at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center. With Lee County and the Town of Fort Myers Beach conducting an in-house examination about which entity will operate it in the future, along with a broken air conditioner in the main building and an obsolete heater in its community pool, things sure have been sticky for the recreational campus. Now, however, it is a lot more comfortable in the Bay Oaks Pool!
“We finished the installation of our new geothermal system on Thursday morning, June 22,” said Nathaly Henao, the Parks & Recreation Aquatic Director for the Town of Fort Myers Beach. “To demonstrate how quick and effective it is, the crew finished work that morning, and the pool was 90 degrees. We activated the system, set it to 84, and by that evening it was already down to 85, and this was on a day when the outside temperature reached 95! By the next morning, all the ladies in our water aerobics class immediately noticed the difference and they all love it!”
Geothermal is shocking simple: Two wells go down roughly 20 feet until they strike groundwater that provides a consistent temperature. Pipes in the wells lead into four processing units, two for heat and two for cool, and these connect to the temperature control unit in the main pool house. Once the water reaches the desired setting, it flows through the filter system and into the main pools. “I can set the pool temperature either to heat or cool or to the automatic setting,” explained Nathaly. “Geothermal allowed us the option to both heat or cool the water, while other systems, like with gas, let us select only one or the other.”
The Symbiont Service Corporation installed the geothermal for $55,900. “We chose geothermal for several reasons,” says Sean DePalma, director of Parks & Recreation for the Town. “First, this was not a luxury – we patched and repaired the old system over and again for at least the last three years, and there was simply nothing more we could do except replace it. Second, geothermal will be much more cost efficient and will pay for itself in the first three to five years through projected savings.”
January & July
Perhaps most important, “this will allow the public more use of the pool,” says Sean, “along with a better visitor experience. We can now open the pool to island residents and guests more than ever, and when you do come here, the water will always be a comfortable experience, whether it is January or July! No longer will our water temperature vary from too hot to too cold. This opens the facility for year-round use for a number of programs, like for our Swim Club. Last school year we had to cancel so many practices because the water was too cold. That will no longer be an issue this winter, so we are happy about that!”
Now that the pool is cool for the hot Summer season, Sean and Nathaly remind everyone that it will be open throughout the The Fourth of July Holiday Weekend, along with the popular obstacle course being set up from Friday, June 30, to Sunday, July 2. “We will have limited hours on the 4th itself, from Noon to 4 p.m.,” explains Sean. “We studied usage numbers from previous July 4th’s and there is always a significant drop-off during the Parade and after 4 p.m., so that is why we set those hours.”
In other activities, morning swim lessons continue, with the next session beginning in July; stop by or call the pool to sign up at 239-463-5759. “What I strongly recommend,” Sean stresses, “is our Super Swimmers Program for elementary students through age 12 on each Saturday from Noon to 1 p.m. This provides participants with specific training and instruction necessary to be a success in competitive youth team swimming. We will teach you the fundamentals, like how to perform a flip, breath properly, and how to pace yourself in terms of speed and efficiency.” There are six weeks remaining in “Super Swimmers,” with a $35 fee.
The Bay Oaks Pool at 2600 Oak Street, next to the Beach Elementary School, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday Noon to 6 p.m.; and The Fourth of July from Noon to 4 p.m. It will close for routine maintenance on Friday, August 11, reopening on Monday, August 21. Admission for adult members age 13 & up is $4 with nonmembers at $7; children members are $2 with nonmember kids $5, and 1 & under free. For information call 239-463-5759 or see fortmyersbeachfl.gov. Enjoy a cool dip at the hottest place in Town in the Bay Oaks Recreation Center Pool!