Independence reopens Civic Center while summer programs are still in the works –

Posted: May 31, 2020 at 2:50 am

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INDEPENDENCE, OhioBusinesses and restaurants have started to re-open in the state of Ohio and Independence is following suit by reopening their Civic Center to residents.

The Civic Center will be reopened on June 1, but with new guidelines and regulations for those who visit. Only Independence residents with Civic Center passes will be allowed in the facility, meaning no outside guests may use the fitness equipment or indoor pool.

Recreation Director Tom Walchanowicz outlined what areas within the center will be available to residents and which facilities will remain temporarily closed. The indoor pool, lap pool, and whirlpool will be open as well as the weight room, track, and cardio equipment area. Aerobics classes will also begin again on June 1. Walchanowicz said that according to state guidelines, the gymnasium, sauna and steam room, showers, atrium, and racquetball courts will be closed until further notice. Other extras that will not be available include the billiard tables and video game machines.

While the workout equipment will be usable, to follow social distancing guidelines some machines may be closed because of the proximity to other machinery. The weight room will have a maximum capacity of 12 people and Walchanowicz said the department is encouraging people to call ahead to reserve a lane in the indoor lap pool. Outdoor baseball diamonds must also be reserved ahead of time either for Independence teams or residents.

Walchanowicz hopes that everyone who visits the center will, Have patience. We are doing everything we can [to follow] guidelines from the Governor. At least the facility is open at this time.

Now that the Civic Center is open, employees and residents will have their temperature taken upon arrival to ensure they are not running a fever, which is a symptom of the COVID-19 virus.

To help in ensuring the new safety protocols are followed, the Recreation Department is planning to hire extra part-time staff members. During the citys Strategic Planning meeting on May 19, Mayor Greg Kurtz said that the part-time employees would be given a pay increase because, they have a different layer of responsibility.

Walchanowicz said that in addition to disinfecting equipment, staff would monitor the pool and workout areas to keep people socially distant while they use the recreation facilities. While the department is unsure how many new staff members it will take on, Walchanowicz said they are looking for more custodians and lifeguards.

During the strategic planning meeting, Finance Director Blaze said that the city would be able to budget for new staff because of the long delay where no wages were being paid due to the shelter-in-place orders. He also said the new staff would not be working for the length of a typical season.

Kurtz said during the planning meeting that if people do not follow protocols, they will be given a warning and if the misbehavior continues, the offender will be asked to leave the area.

As far as other summer activities are concerned in the city, Community Services Director, Marilyn Senick said in the planning meeting that she and her staff are working on planning summer camps and summer playground. The anticipated start date is sometime after July 4. She said that around 120 children registered for summer camp and 115 children registered for summer playground, an abbreviated version of summer camp for younger children.

This is another area where Kurtz said, It will take more people than we traditionally utilize. There can be no more than ten people in a group at once, so Walchanowciz said the registrants will be broken down into groups of eight children with two staff members.

Little League will also continue, but there will be no travel leagues this season. When games do begin, spectators must sit six feet apart and the players will also be spaced accordingly within the dugouts. Walchanowciz said the players will have to purchase their own helmet and bat and if there is a financial issue for the player, the Recreation Department may assist on a case by case basis.

Finally, the Recreation Departments goal is to have the outdoor pool open by June 15. During the planning meeting, new protocols for the pool were discussed including markings on the ground to maintain social distancing at the diving boards and special hours for the senior citizen community. Walchanowicz said, The most we can put in the entire outdoor pool complex at one time is 200 people.

Kurtz said facilities will open, on a measured basis initially to work the bugs out of these safety protocols. He continued, saying it was too soon to determine the status of the annual Independence Day firework display and Home Days celebration.

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Independence reopens Civic Center while summer programs are still in the works -

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May 31st, 2020 at 2:50 am

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