b'Winters Hard Work Pays Off at the SOMA Pools A sneak peek at preparations for this summers swimming seasonBY SARA COURTNEYT helazydaysofsummerMaple- fairs for South Orange, and Melissa Mancuso, thetenancecourse of the summer, we have over 170 are upon us, and what bet- employees.Itrangesbetween150-175. ter way to spend them than atIts a lot of people to hire.thecommunitypool?ForThe off season is also spent completing main-wood and South Orange residents, itsprojects at the pool; Mancuso notes they become an annual tradition, with par- recently painted the diving tower at the Maplewood ents surrounded by their kids splash- RecreationDepartmentDirectorforMaplewood,pool. The previous year they tackled one of their big-ing, learning to dive off the diving board for the firstboth begin the hiring process for the pools monthsgest capital projects ever by installing a new pump time, and begging for ice cream that will instantlyin advanceoften in January and Februarya fulland pool filtration system.melt in the heat. Friends bumping into old friends,six months before guests dip their toes. Shutting the pool down for seven months of the neighbors floating next to neighbors, everybody inIn preparing for the pool season, from a staff- year means there is quite a bit of cleanup to pre-hats and squintingdoes it get any better? ing standpoint, we reach out to our pool manage- pare it for opening again, and at the South Orange For most of us, pool season arrives when the heatment team from the prior season to make sure theypool, cleaning starts months in advance. Cleaning index climbs from the 80s through the 90s and theare still available and interested in returning, saidup and getting the pool ready to open usually start air conditioning just cant keep up. But long beforeTravers. If theres a spot available, we then start toaround the middle of April, says Travers. We will official opening day, the pool unofficially opens toadvertise for the position in Februaryespeciallystart watching the weather to see when it is beyond cleaningcrews,plumbers,lifeguards-in-training,forlifeguards,apositionTraverscallsextremelyfreeze points, because the entire pool is winterized andtownofficialscompletingtheirfinal-touchescompetitive.for the winter, so there is no water or anything run-walk through checklist. Behind all those lazy daysMancuso has a similar timeline for hiring poolning to the pool.of summer are busy people working diligently to getstaff. We have patio staff, front desk staff, and thenThe first order of business in clean up involves the pool ready for us to relax. we have lifeguards. Those are the three seasonal bigturning the water back on. A plumber has to come One of the first things to be done is engaging thepositions that we staff, she said. The rehire letters goout and de-winterize the entire systemget all the numerous employees it takes to staff each pool. Peterout in January and February, so that any open po- bathroomsrunning,getalltheplumbingfixtures Travers, the Director of Recreation and Cultural Af- sitions can start getting filled by March. Over thefixed up. The ice machine in the snack barany 30/ matters magazine / summer 2022'