Upper Arlington officials have opened public tennis courts and athletics fields for baseball and softball in advance of a plan to open two of the city's three swimming pools in early June.

Ohio had restricted recreational activities in public parks throughout the state to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of those restrictions, including those on baseball, softball and tennis, were lifted May 14, clearing the way for activities to return, with precautionary measures.

Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department director Debbie McLaughlin and City Manager Steve Schoeny made the announcement during a virtual conference session May 18 with Upper Arlington City Council.

"It will not be the same as it has been in the past," Schoeny said. "Just like the COVID-19 virus has touched every other element of our lives, it will touch those programs, as well."

The city's tennis courts at Northam Park, Fancyburg Park, Thompson Park and Sunny 95 Park opened May 26, and nets were erected in the parks' pickleball and sand-volleyball courts.

Although facilities at Fancyburg, Thompson and Sunny 95 will be first-come, first-served, Northam Park courts, which players pay to access, will require advance registration at upperarlingtonoh.gov for 90-minute increments.

"We do ask that the players make court reservations in advance so that we do not have people arriving and not have a court available, and then we have a congregation of people," McLaughlin said.

Under the plan announced May 18, the athletics fields were to be opened for practice and the subsequent resumption of youth and adult baseball and softball leagues.

City officials had intended to open fields May 26, but inclement weather pushed the opening date back to May 28.

"Mainly with the weather last week, we just needed time to do some work (with) the mowing of the grass and the infield," McLaughlin said.

As of May 28, McLaughlin said, officials are in contact with sports organizations that use the fields for baseball and softball leagues regarding opening their leagues for play.

Also as of May 28, the city has a target goal to open Tremont Pool and Devon Pool the week of Monday, June 8.

"There's some facility-preparation work we have to do, as well as all the staff training that comes with all of our aquatic operations," McLaughlin said.

Residents who wish to use the pools will have to pay in advance at upperarlingtonoh.gov for a 90-minute swim session. The city will welcome registered groups.

When the sessions end, workers will clean the facilities in preparation for the next 90-minute session.

"We'll have waves of people coming in," McLaughlin said. "We don't want people to arrive without knowing they can get in because we don't want to have crowds we cannot accommodate."

Reed Road Water Park will remain closed indefinitely because of the need for additional staff to operate Tremont and Devon pools, McLaughlin said.

"In addition to our normal office staff and lifeguards that we have, we also need to have deck monitors to enforce the social distancing in the pool and on the deck," she said. "We don't have the staff to operate three pools. We also don't know if there will be desire and interest from the public to support the operation of three pools."

The water park contains playground-type pool features and slides.

"It's basically a playground in the water," McLaughlin said. "Those are not allowed to be used yet. Once we have to start closing off the amenities of that pool, it would just be really problematic for parents to have a good experience going to that facility, knowing we'll constantly have to tell the children to stay off of something."

As of May 28, McLaughlin said, the Upper Arlington Senior Center, Amelita Mirolo Barn, park shelters, playgrounds, basketball and hockey courts and drinking fountains will remain closed indefinitely.

Officials also have not had an opportunity to examine how to address the return of contact-sports activities at park facilities, she said.

Park visitors are being asked to wear masks in common areas.

In addition, the city, which contracts with Corvus Janitorial Systems for restroom cleaning at its parks, said restrooms would be cleaned twice as week, as opposed to once. They also will be disinfected twice a week, and those practices could be increased either via contract or by city staff.

The original janitorial contract was for $36,050. The city will pay up to another $15,000 for the additional cleaning and sanitation services.

"It's not just some general cleaning that we would have done on a regular basis, but door knobs, handles, gate-handle entrances would all be cleaned on a frequent basis," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said capacities at facilities also would be reduced to "allow for social distancing within the provided spaces."

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