Merrifield Pool closes doors after large fight Tuesday evening
“Then I hear that some weird things happened last night, it’s disturbing," says a Merrifield Pool swimmer, Patricia Lawton.
The parking lot of Merrifield Pool in Mishawaka empty today, despite the 90 degree temperatures. Many Mishawaka residents were ready to cool off in the pool on Wednesday afternoon, but ended up disappointed when they saw the 'closed' signs near the entrance.
“I’m disappointed and surprised, and it’s the first time this year that I’ve made it out here, so I was ready to go and start my summer!" says Lawton.
The closure comes after a large fight broke out at the pool on Tuesday evening, involving 25-30 juveniles, some shooting airsoft guns at each other and pool staff.
“After hearing about the events last night, I ordered the pool closed and it will be closed until further notice," says Mayor of Mishawaka, Dave Wood.
“We cannot have our staff dealing with this type of behavior when they’re also trying to make sure no one drowns in the pool or everything else than go on in the pool," says Phil Blasko, Mishawaka Parks Superintendent. "We just will not put up with this behavior.”
Mishawaka officials came together Wednesday morning to decide on new safety measures and rules for Merrifield Pool to prevent future fights. Until those new rules are in place, the pool will remain closed.
“We will reopen only when we can give reasonable assurance to our staff, our park patrons, and our citizens that they are safe coming to this pool," Mayor Wood says.
“Any juvenile that is under eighteen years of age must be accompanied by their parent in order to enter, we will not allow anybody under eighteen into our pool from here on out without their parent or guardian with them," Blasko says.
The closure of Merrifield Pool leaves Michiana with one less pool for the community to cool off on hot summer days. For now, officials are not ready to give a date to expect a reopening.
“We will not open until all those specials are in place, so we’re not sure when that’s going to happen," Blasko says.
“This is my favorite one. It’s an Olympic size pool, it’s beautiful, and has a nice lap swim. Potawatomi might be my next, but like we said, it’s closed," Lawton says.