With winter finally behind us and summer just around the corner, New Englanders are happy to be shedding their winter gear for shorts and t-shirts and, before we know it, swimsuits. But before that first belly flop into the sparkling clear water of the community pool, a lot of work must be done to get the pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, and recreation areas ready for the summer season. So while many of us are inside counting the days until summer on a calendar, property managers are out working to make sure summer fun arrives on time.
More Than a Day at the Beach
Given the range of specialized and important tasks that goes along with the opening of a community pool, one of the first tasks for a property manager is to decide whether to use an outside pool management service that will take care of everything from insuring all permits are received to doing the daily maintenance of the pool. As Sean Johnson of American Pool Management in Nanuet, New York, explains, services like his allow property managers to deal with just one person rather than making twenty different calls to get the pool ready. Steve DiNocco, CMCA, AMS, of Affinity Realty and Property Management in Boston, Massachusetts, adds an additional benefit: “Using an outside service limits my liability,” he says, noting that the limited responsibility is offset by increased expense. Each pool [in Massachusetts] must have a Certified Pool Operator, and in many cases, it is less expensive for the on-site property manager to gain CPO certification rather than hire an outside company.
In either case, Johnson says, “the key is getting started early.” DiNocco also points out that starting early allows pool operators to check in with their local board of health inspector to ensure the guidelines and regulations are clear before the annual permit inspections. Something that was acceptable in previous years may not be acceptable this year.
An outside pool service such as American Pool Management will address these issues, but Johnson also stresses that it is important for property managers to be involved as well. For example, Johnson suggests that property managers walk the pool deck with the pool service to ensure they agree on the state of the pool and what must be done to pass all inspections and have a safe summer.
For those property managers who decide to do much of the work themselves, the first item on their spring pool “To Do” list is hiring staff. Staff availability in areas where lifeguards are required may determine the hours and days the pool can be open. To find qualified lifeguards, many turn to the local colleges and high schools for Red Cross-certified lifeguards. DiNocco runs ads in the local paper and “hopes they get enough qualified applicants.” Johnson relies more on his current staff to recruit others, saying, “Most of my lifeguards come through word-of-mouth.” Tom Halter, propertymanager at Ransom Oaks in Buffalo, New York, concurs: “We send a flier to the high schools and the Red Cross certification courses, but a large percentage of our lifeguards come from staff who have been with us for years, or through word-of-mouth.”