Westerville’s Highlands Park Aquatic Center, 245 South Spring Road, will not be opened this summer and the indoor pool at the Westerville Community Center, 350 North Cleveland Avenue, will remain closed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Westerville Parks & Recreation Department officials announced May 22 the city facilities schedule in response to Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health releasing a time frame that allows certain parks and recreation facilities to reopen or resume.

“Westerville Parks & Recreation has been planning its schedule for many weeks, carefully considering the implications on the safe management, maintenance as well as budgetary impacts of various programs and activities,” David Collinsworth, Westerville city manager, said in a press release.

“In the final analysis, the health, safety and welfare of the public and our staff was the preeminent concern.”

City facilities that will remain closed until further notice are Everal Barn, playgrounds, basketball courts, the Thomas Knox Hockey Rink, Hanby Park Splash Pad, the senior center, park shelters, water fountains and sports fields for contact sports.

Other cancelations for summer programs include day camps, adult softball, swim lessons, the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, Lunch Box Music Series, Summer Theater and the Westerville Jazz Series.

The decision to close Highlands Park for the season was among the most difficult, but guided by the recommendation of Franklin County Public Health, according to Collinsworth.

He said the recommendation and guidelines from county and state health officials require a number of modifications and practices to accommodate social distancing and minimize risk of the coronavirus spreading.

The conditions would require significant restrictions on the number of visitors each day, as much as 82% below capacity, Collinsworth said.

The customer service implications of inequity and access to a public facility is a major factor in the consideration, he said.

Additionally, Collinsworth said, administrators determined a shortened season would not make sense for operations based on pool preparation, staff hiring and training requirements.

Facilities scheduled to reopen Tuesday, May 26, include outdoor tennis and pickleball courts, the skate park and the dog park.

The Westerville Community Center is scheduled to reopen on Monday, June 15 with limitations.

Modifications for the community center opening include:

· Temperature checks for all visitors and staff entering the facility.

· Face coverings must be worn by visitors and staff.

· Social distancing will be strictly enforced.

· Facility capacity will be 50% of occupancy.

· No locker storage will be provided; patrons will be required to keep their belongings with them at all times.

· Fitness areas will be frequently disinfected (by user) and strictly enforced.

· No games will be allowed in the gymnasium for social distancing compliance. No shared equipment.

· Single-file only use of the track for walking and jogging.

Future announcements and schedules will be announced on the city’s website: westerville.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla