New Bethel Pool Director Prepares for Opening

by Ben Matheson on August 28, 2014

Raunicka Ray, the Aquatics Director at the new Bethel Pool.

Raunicka Ray, the Aquatics Director at the new Bethel Pool.

The new pool in Bethel is scheduled to open in just over two months. At this point, there’s water in the pool, the slide is under construction, and the treadmills are on the barge.

The City of Bethel owns the facility and earlier this year hired an Atlanta-based company, USA Pools to manage it. The Aquatics Director Raunicka Ray arrived in Bethel about a week ago, and has been pushing toward the November 1st opening.

“Before that I have to build a team of lifeguards, I have to build a team of front desk staff, concessions workers, general labor, and find a programming director,” said Ray.

Ray has been doing interview and hiring for the 12 lifeguard positions and other jobs. And the operations plan is coming together. A final plan is due September 15th to the city, who will have to sign off on things like rates and hours. Those preliminary hours look like 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The company is still in process of setting rates, which might be 8 dollars for adults for a day pass and 3 to 5 dollars for kids. There will also be monthly and annual membership plans.

Grassroots efforts to organize and raise money for the pool stretching back decades have advocated for the safety benefits of having a place for people to learn to swim. Ray says the pool and fitness center is planning a range of lessons and classes.

“We’d probably be offering more of the beginning classes and see how that works out then eventually add more classes to the schedule. So level one classes, water baby classes, fitness and pilates classes, things of that nature,” said Ray.

The City Council on Tuesday night established the Kuimivik Board as an advisory body to the city. That group has stakeholders from across the Y-K Delta who will help the city guide policy for the facility, including programming. The new pool gets a lot of attention, but Ray adds that the fitness facility is also coming together.

“Expect to see treadmills, expect to see different types of fitness equipment, you have your leg extension machines, your bench press machines, kettle bells, dumbbells, all that,” said Ray.

USA pools manages nearly 300 pools all across the country.

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