JACKSONVILLE, Arkansas — Under state health guidelines, pools, splash pads, and swim beaches are allowed to open in Arkansas, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. 

At Splash Zone in Jacksonville, it’s been nonstop work for the past two weeks in preparation for Saturday’s opening. 

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Aquatic Manager Diane Novotny said her team is ready to go. 

“Being that we’ve been sitting around doing paperwork for three months, getting open is a good thing,” she said. 

On May 8, the governor announced pools, splash pads, and swim beaches could open back up the Friday before Memorial Day. 

This anticipation meant a line of families waiting outside for doors to roll up in Jacksonville. 

Novotny said her employees were ready to be out and about. 

“It’s important for the city to be able to try to be normal without being normal,” she said. 

The city’s decision to open back up came with no hesitation, according to Novotny. 

“My director basically says we are doing it and we’re gonna do it. We just gotta figure out a way to do it,” she said. 

Novotny said figuring out a way to do it meant social distancing reminders taped to the ground, chairs spread six-feet apart, capacity cut in half, and having designated life guards monitor social distancing. 


In North Little Rock, the scene was a little different though. Terry Hartwick, North Little Rock Parks Director, said they really had to think their decision through. 

“We had plenty of warning, but we discussed, ‘Do we really want to do this? Do we not want to do it?” he said. 

“Can we really make it happen?” is what Hartwick said was going through his mind when the governor gave pools the green light. 

“Everyday could be a new challenge and another day could be a new obstacle or another day we could go back or forth, so we just took our time,” he said. 

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According to Hartwick, taking their time means spending the next two weeks monitoring and adjusting, while locking their guidelines in place. 

“We’ll be ready and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people in our pools,” he said. 

Right now, North Little Rock is set to open its pools to the public on June 5.