Mike Hamer returns to run Delaware pools, recreation baseball, softball programs
The city of Delaware's parks and recreation program will operate both the Jack Florance Pool and youth baseball and softball leagues this year, for the first time since 2011.
That's when the Central Ohio YMCA, which operates the Delaware Community Center YMCA at 1121 S. Houk Road, began to direct the programs.
"As part of our partnership with the Y, we did not renew a contract (for operation of the pool, baseball and softball), mutually arrived at in terms of our agreement with them,” City Manager Tom Homan told City Council on Feb. 1. “So we're reestablishing a recreation department this year."
The city has hired Mike Hamer as its aquatics and facilities supervisor, Homan said.
Hamer worked for the city from 2007 to 2010, and left when the city transitioned to YMCA oversight of the pool and recreation, Lee Yoakum, city community-affairs coordinator, told ThisWeek.
Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler on Feb. 1 told council Hamer has hit the ground running.
"He's an expert in everything aquatics. He knows what I call the guts of the pool, so he's already in there rolling up his sleeves, and we're confident that we'll be able to reopen the pool, only differently this year, to the public. That's something we're very excited about," Kridler said.
This year's difference that Kridler cited is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Hamer told ThisWeek the pandemic is looming large in the city's plans for the pool opening and the return of softball and baseball leagues.
"We've already reached out to the (Delaware Public Health District), so we're in contact with them. We're going to follow whatever the state pretty much sets with the COVID restrictions," he said. "That might be limited admittance. Last summer, the pools that did open were limited to so many per hour. It might be 200 people in there. They still have to maintain 6 feet apart. They still have to wear their masks.
“But we're kind of waiting to see with the vaccines coming out, with the schools going back, really we're looking for that state guidance. ... We're going to be working really closely with (the state and the health district) to make sure we can be safe but optimize our ability to get people in the pool and having a good time doing what they want to do during the summertime," Hamer said.
The YMCA continues to be a resource for the city, Hamer said Feb. 17.
"I'm actually meeting with the Y today to kind of work together to offer some lifeguard classes and water-safety instructor classes," he said. "We're currently hiring and trying to get staff set for this summer because we're planning on opening. Now, depending on COVID, who know what's going to happen? But we're going to be up and moving and putting people in the pool, hopefully, and everything else."
The city will have to be flexible regarding the pandemic, he said, but one thing that's clear is COVID-19 transmission via the pool's water is essentially impossible.
The water is treated with such chemicals as sodium hypochlorite and calcium hypochlorite, which sanitize anything immersed in the pool's water, he said.
Some details of the pool's operation will depend on the course of the pandemic, Hamer said.
"I think anything is a possibility at this point. I hate to say it. We're kind of waiting to see what the state says and what we can do,” he said. “If the state says we can open up all the way and start doing our thing, that's what we're going to try to do. If the state says, 'No, you can only allow so much,' then, of course, we'll look at reservations, how many people in each pool and stuff like that."
The pool season is expected to open May 29, the Saturday before Memorial Day, and the city will post updates to any plans on its website and social media, Hamer said.
"We're going to let people know what we're doing. The thing we don't want is if all of a sudden we sell these memberships and now there's only so many people allowed in the pool,” he said. “So we're going to be upfront and honest, completely transparent with what we've got going on. Halfway through the summer that might change. I think if anything, we've learned flexibility and trying to adjust and everything else is kind of where we are in the world."
A number of details about youth softball and baseball are posted at delawareohio.net/parks-natural-resources/sports-and-recreation-programs/.
Hamer said he expects the pool to be busy from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on its days of operations and perhaps even later with rentals. The days will start with a morning swim, followed by a DARTS (Delaware Aquatic Racing Team Stingrays) youth swim and at noon the open swim.
Yoakum said the city would post seasonal job openings for the pool, including lifeguards and cashiers.
Hamer said concession and maintenance workers also will be needed, and the employees could be from ages 15 and up, depending on the job.
The softball and baseball youth teams will include boys and girls ages 5 up to about 15, he said, as well as coed and men's adult teams.
Like the pool's operation, the softball and baseball programs will follow guidelines set by the state and health district, Hamer said.
After he left the city, Hamer worked at Ohio State University as an assistant director in aquatics, community programs and safety.
He also spent three years with Columbus-based Premier Pool Management, with pool management training, consulting and oversight responsibilities.
Yoakum said Hamer's annual salary is $68,619. Benefits include medical and dental insurance, life insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, tuition reimbursement and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System pension.
Hamer said he's happy to be back in Delaware.
"I worked here before. I wouldn't be back if I didn't like it," he said. "It's always a great place to work. People are friendly. People go above and beyond.
“It says a lot when you have even upper-level management that pick up a shovel or do something that might not be in their norm. (They) just want to help out and do whatever they can,” he said. “Delaware is a great community. That's why I'm back. I loved it, and I wanted to come back. I just love what I do."