Parks & Rec eyes re-opening of pool, limiting youth sports

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Monticello Parks and Recreation Department has been busy preparing to open the Aquatic Center and explore whether or not they can offer youth sports yet this summer, while taking reasonable measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

     During the June 1 Monticello City Council meeting, Parks and Rec staff Jacob Oswald and Shannon Poe provided updates to the council.

     Oswald shared that 25-plus families have pulled their children out of youth sports already, leaving little options for team sports. Oswald said they’re looking at offering sports clinics versus playing games. This would allow Parks and Rec to control the use of equipment, which cannot be shared from kid to kid.

     He also informed the council that local traveling tournament teams plan to bring 40 other teams to town June 12 and 13 and are requesting use of the ball diamonds. Parks and Rec is recommending concession stands be closed to eliminate the need to sanitize everything in use.

     “If we’re not allowing our kids to play, why allow travel teams?” asked Council member Dave Goedken.

     Oswald said travel team players own their equipment and don’t have to worry about sharing it with others.

     “There’s a push from local travel teams to bring people to town,” added City Administrator Doug Herman.

     In addition to closing concessions, the bleachers will also be off limits; Parks and Rec encourages people to bring their own chairs.

     Herman noted with the governor allowing youth sports, there are so many restrictions placed on them that it makes it impossible to even offer them, a catch 22.

     City parks, playground equipment, shelters and picnic tables have been cleared for public use, as of June 1. There are signs telling people to use the equipment at their own risk. Parks and Rec will not be sanitizing everything after it’s been used.

     Despite the governor allowing swimming pools to open, it’s the recommendation of Poe, Oswald and Parks and Rec to not allow lap swimming and lessons. Poe said this would allow them to prepare to open to the public at 50 percent capacity when that time comes.

     “We’re going through the preparations to open ASAP,” Poe said. “Well hopefully fill the pool this week and need a few more days to train lifeguards. We’re going through the steps to open.”

     One reason for eliminating swimming lessons is because the governor is still asking for social distancing inside and out of the pool. Lifeguards and instructors need to be able to physically work with the kids during lessons, and that’s just not possible right now. Poe said the governor extended her restrictions through June 17. It might be possible to offer lessons after that time if looser restrictions are put in place.

     Despite planning to re-open the pool, Poe did have some concerns such as having enough PPE and hand sanitizer stations throughout the grounds, as required.

     “I think we need to take this all with a grain of salt,” Goedken said of the restrictions. “We need to leave it to people to use their own judgment.”

     “If we listen to the (governor’s) advice to a “T,” said Herman, “we aren’t going to be able to open anything.”

     Mayor Brian Wolken encouraged everyone to take steps to prevent and protect those in the vulnerable population right now.

     If the pool opens, social distancing will be required both in and outside of the pool. Council member Gary Feldmann asked if that was a suggestion or requirement. Poe said it was required and will be followed.

     She also said the deck chairs will be removed and the concession stand will likely be closed.

     There was talk about limiting usage, which has to be at 50 percent, to just local residents. Poe warned of the high possibility that people from neighboring counties whose pools are closed will likely come to Monticello.

In other city business:

   • The city council meetings will re-open again to the public, likely before the next council meeting (June 15). Seating will be limited, and the public is encouraged to wear their facemasks if they feel comfortable doing so.

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