By: Rebecca Miller
The decisions made by the President of the United States and the Governor of Ohio over the past eight weeks affected the time when they were announced, but they are now beginning to affect the near future. At the May 6, 2020 meeting of the Montpelier Park Board, board members and village staff discussed how to adjust to the effects of the quarantine.
Recreation Director Sandy Gordon informed the board that she will not be able to do quite a few of the typical summer activities because it would be impossible to keep the children far enough apart, as determined by the Health Department. She has developed six and one half weeks of activities in which she will have eight children per hour each day to enjoy some summer fun with her.
These activities will begin On June 22, 2020, unless of course another ruling comes down from the government that stops them. A few of them are tie-dying, an escape room and chalk art, as well as one week in which the Soil and Water Department want to participate.
Parents may go online to register a week or two in advance of activities, thus keeping it short term in case adjustments have to be made.
Gordon will be starting the Free Lunch program on May 26 and it will run through August, making it twelve weeks this year instead of the normal ten. She also expects to be serving around 80 meals per day instead of 40 which is what it has averaged in the past. “I have already ordered specific items through Two Brothers and Millers New Market,” Gordon said.
“We may have difficulty getting enough fruits and vegetable so we are going to be putting the V8 Fusion drinks in twice a week this year instead of once.” There will only be two volunteers at a time in the building with her to prepare and hand out the lunches. Each one will be required to wear a hat, visor, gloves and a mask which will be provided.
She has also spoken with Pastor Ben Harris to see if the Ministerium want to hand out snack packs and weekend lunch packs.
Board president asked Gordon to please let them know when she hits the mark of 20,000 lunches having been given out and she assured them it should not be very long before that happens.
In her Financial report, Village Finance Director Nickki Uribes informed the board members that they are “heading into some serious revenue losses because of all the business that have had to shut down. Not enough withholding taxes will be coming in.” She is projecting at least a 20% loss in income taxes this year, so they will need to have some budget cuts. The board voted to approve her report.
Discussion ensued with the realization that some things which cannot happen this summer that usually bring in revenue, but also expend it, will balance each other out, causing the budget to be able to handle what does happen. The number one topic discussed in this financial section of the meeting was whether to open the swimming pool or not.
It was determined that they should probably not open the pool, due to:
– the quarantine and the likelihood that the State Health Department will not lift the ban on large groups gathering soon enough for it to make sense to open the pool. If they could not open till July, the cost would be prohibitive.
- it will cut 24% out of the expenses
- It will keep the “kids” who have been hired to be lifeguards from getting other jobs, if they are waiting around hoping the pool will open
- The fact that is is hard enough to get enough lifeguards. At this point in time, Don Brown stated, it takes seven per shift and they only have five hired with two of those still needing re-certification.
So the three reasons for recommending to the Village Council that the pool remain closed this summer are the virus, finances and lack of lifeguards. Board President Brent Saneholtz stated, “This is unfortunate that we can’t reopen the pool…but it is an unfortunate reality right now.” Jason Rockey was asked to take the recommendation to council and to inform them that the Parks and Recreation Board has “every intention to open it for the 2021 summer swim season.”
Park Supervisor, Don Brown informed the board that he will continue the care of the pool, keeping the valves lubricated and exercised to keep them from going bad. Rockey pointed out, “we have kept it up so it should be fine mechanically,” in response to Board member Jennifer Schlosser’s question as to what effect will not being used have on the pool itself physically?
Rockey also mentioned that over the past few weeks there have been conversations about summer help for the parks. With the Ball Diamonds not being used, they will not need the amount of care that is normal in the summer. Gordon said that there was a notice that all ball leagues are done, but they might plan some pick-up games or camps in July.
“We will just have to wait and see,” she added. It was also decided, at her recommendation, that without a full season of games, it does not make sense to open the Concession Stand. Some thoughts of possibilities were tossed around such as letting groups who donate items, with no sales, to use it and to maybe give out free popcorn to kids during Bean Days. The board voted to approve a motion to close the Concession Stand for 2020.
Also approved was a motion to remove Topball and Safety Town from the schedule this year. Gordon said she is not sure if it will work to have Jr. Gardners or not, and that it is not feasible to hold the Registration Blitz at the end of summer party as usual.
Three hundred showed up last year, so she will be doing most of the program guide online, as having that many people would be logistically impossible. Passports would not be safe, either, germ wise.
The passports have gone from 28 to 12 pages and will not be printed this year as they are not going to be given out at the schools.
Gordon also said that she is hoping to fit soccer in during August this year, but is holding off on the registration forms until July. She plans to send cards to past players, get it out on social media and hopes that the Library will be open by that time and can also be a place for registrations. She worded it, “Stay tuned as we wait on the Governor for that.”
In his Park and Pool report, Don Brown informed the board:
- They are draining the water left from the winter
- Keeping the deck looking nice and clean
- The plumbing and electric light lines are finished to the Splash Pad (which is located between the pool and tennis courts)
- He expressed appreciation for how the splash pad crews did not damage the park with trucks and equipment
- They have finished mulching
- Are mowing and weed whacking
- Sprayed weeks
- Cleaned garden area around the pool
- Old lawn mower is in the shop and he is using a loaner
- Other equipment is running well
- Per Health Department orders the drinking fountains will stay shut off
- Will be turning on the water for summer work
- Plan to stay as busy as they can which he said should be easy
- Summer help will be minimal with only one park boy
- They plan to power wash and keep up with general maintenance
- Is aware of a few park benches that need to be adjusted due to slanting.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org