Dublin Community Recreation Center exercises safe, welcoming environment after full-time reopening

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Brian Duffy, 36, of Dublin shoots a basketball at the Dublin Community Recreation Center on Feb. 24.

Until one takes a closer look, the sights and sounds at the Dublin Community Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road, appear a lot like they did before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down much of the world last year.

Minimum distancing, mask-wearing and other protocols are being enforced, but since the center returned to full-time operations and programming on Feb. 1, many members and visitors are enjoying its amenities much in the same manner as before the pandemic.

“I came to get some exercise – it’s been too long,” said Brian Duffy, 36, a Dublin resident who was shooting basketball at the center Feb. 24.

He said it was his first visit since the center's full reopening.

“I came in to renew our membership (last week), but this is my first time back (to use it),” said Duffy, whose children and wife, a fitness instructor, have been members since 2015.

“I played golf last summer (instead of coming to the center, but) it’s good to be back,” said Duffy, who expects to resume pick-up basketball games.

Eighty-three-year-old Earl Rittenberg, who lives in the shadow of the former Dublin City Hall near the recreation center, also was working out Feb. 24.

“It’s just a hop, skip and a jump for me to get here,” said Rittenberg, a sales manager for a phone manufacturing company who works from home. “I take a 90-minute break from my basement office to come here, and then it’s back to work."

Rittenberg said he uses the rowing machine, stationary bicycle and free weights.

Even at an age at which he might be at greater risk than others to contract coronavirus, Rittenberg said, he is comfortable using the recreation center.

“It’s remarkable how they’ve made it so safe and comfortable,” said Rittenberg, who also utilizes the center’s online registration that allows him to choose a time to visit.

“If one time is too busy, I can pick another,” he said.

Thomas Dehon, 18, of Dublin lifts weights Feb. 24 at the Dublin Community Recreation Center.

Feb. 24 visitors also included 18-year-old Thomas Dehon.

The Dublin Coffman High School graduate and student at Miami University was lifting free weights at the recreation center.

Dehon said he visited the center three to four times a week before the pandemic, but he began working out at home while it was closed.

Since its reopening, Dehon said, he continues to do some of his workouts at home, using the center twice a week for equipment he doesn’t have at home.

The center had closed March 14, 2020, and remained closed until June 8, during the early days of the pandemic, said Shirley Blaine, public information officer for Dublin.

Some of its amenities were shut down again after Franklin County Public Health issued a stay-at-home advisory in November, but on Feb. 1, those parts of the center were reopened and nonmembers were permitted to use the facility again on daily passes for the first time since March 2020, Blaine said.

Under the current protocols, the center requires advance registration for use of the fitness track, gymnasium, leisure and lap pools and group fitness classes, which necessary to control capacity, said Kelly Rigano, recreation administrator for Dublin.

Thermal scanners are used to check temperatures before people enter the equipment area, and face masks are required to be worn unless a person is in the pool or actively exercising and 6 feet or more apart from any other individual, Rigano said.

Still, everything is going to plan, she said.

“Staff developed operating plans during our building closure in 2020 and have made very few adjustments upon reopening,” Rigano said.

Some bicycle equipment was relocated and time blocks for fitness classes were adjusted, but otherwise, policy and procedure have been the same since June, she said.

“Recreation services did a tremendous job preparing their reopening plans," Rigano said.

Guests use the exercise equipment at the Dublin Community Recreation Center on Feb. 24.

Members and visitors are returning, though not quite up to prepandemic levels yet, according to admission figures.

In 2019, the Dublin Community Recreation Center had about 6,500 members and recorded approximately 400,000 pass visits, as well as the sale of 31,000 daily passes.

From Feb. 1 to 18, the community center recorded 10,133 member and guest visits to the facility.

The hours of operation at the center remain the same as before. The facility is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, holidays excepted.

For more information, go to dublinohiousa.gov/recreation-services.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo