Grove City's summer recreation options limited, not done

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
Emma Jahn, foreground, 10, and Avery Potts, 9, practice serving the ball June 25 as part of a four-day youth volleyball clinic through Grove City Parks and Recreation at the Kingston Center in Grove City. Some programming is getting underway while some summer staples will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Grove City Parks and Recreation Department held about two dozen classes and activities during June, with more planned for July.

More programs are in the works for August and September, but while some parks facilities are reopened to the public, others will remain closed with little or no chance of reopening during the summer, Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad said.

Outdoor shelters were scheduled to be available for walk-up usage beginning July 1.

"We're honoring any reservations that have been previously made, but we're not doing any new ones," Conrad said. "The shelters will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis."

The number of tables in each shelter have been reduced by half to help control the number of people congregating in the shelters and promoting social distancing, she said.

Basketball hoops and courts, playgrounds, tennis and pickleball courts at Windsor Park, tennis courts at Gantz Park, the Grove City Skate Park and off-leash dog areas in Breck Community Park are open with certain restrictions.

The Big Splash remains closed and will not reopen until May 29, 2021.

"Even if the restrictions on gatherings were lifted by the state, it's just too late to be able to open the Big Splash," Conrad said. "It's not as easy as simply opening the door and letting people in. We'd have to hire and train lifeguards. By that time, summer would almost be over."

The Eagle Pavilion, Gantz Barn and Gantz Farmhouse, Grove City Welcome Center and Museum, Grant-Sawyer Home, Century Village,and Evans Center remain closed.

The seniors served by the Evans Center are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus, so it probably won't open until September or October, and even then some restrictions will likely be in place, Conrad said.

Hot meals are being delivered to seniors who need them through a partnership with LifeCare Alliance, she said.

"Socialization opportunities are the main things our seniors are missing out on with the Evans Center closed," Conrad said.

A Senior Club Facebook group has been created to help take up the slack and provide Evans Center regulars a way to stay connected, she said.

The parks department began planning its slate of classes and activities for June and July in mid-May, Conrad said, and posted the available programs on the parks and recreation COVID-19 page at grovecityohio.gov.

A limit of nine participants was set for each program to follow the guidelines Responsible Restart Ohio set, she said.

Participants must sign in before entering a building or class confirming they are free of any coronavirus symptoms and have their temperatures taken, Conrad said.

Masks are required for indoor activities unless the participant is not able to wear one or if there is sufficient social distancing to not require wearing a mask, she said.

"People have been very understanding and compliant," Conrad said. "They understand we're going through a pandemic, the likes of which we've never experienced before."

Registration for most of the programs quickly reached capacity, she said.

"I think people are just excited to have activities available for their children to enjoy," Conrad said.

Recreation supervisor Amanda Gehres has helped lead volleyball skills clinics and Stepping Stone, a class held June 25 in which youngsters could make paving stones for their yard.

"There was a lot of excitement when we opened the doors and the kids could come in for a program," Gehres said. "They were overjoyed to be able to get out and do something with other kids."

There can be some advantages to the limited class sizes, she said.

"With something like the volleyball clinics, we're working on the basic fundamentals and when there's only eight or nine kids in the class, it allows for more individualized instruction," Gehres said.

Parks and recreation staff members are perhaps as excited about holding activities again as the participants, Conrad said.

"This is what we do," she said.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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