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Sumter County Parks and Recreation opens limited activities at The Columns at Boone Park

From Staff Reports

 

AMERICUS – The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department (SCPRD), like most other entities in the United States, has been dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The agency shut down its popular gymnastics program and a growing track & field program during the month of March and suspended its youth baseball season. There were hopes to re-start the youth baseball program by late May or early June, but Governor Brian Kemp’s executive orders made it too difficult and the season was cancelled in mid May. Those who registered were offered refunds or credits.

In addition to the spring cancellations, the CDC guidelines for operating public pools and aquatic centers were rigid and costly. Those operating day camps were also given very stringent guidelines that made it nearly impossible for a small agency to follow. Therefore, after discussing these issues with the Sumter County Board of Commissioners and County Administrators, the decision was made by SCPRD Executive Director Tim Estes to keep the two public pools in Sumter County closed for the season and to cancel the summer day camp program.

“This was not a financial decision at all. We had ample funds budgeted for the operations of our pools and day camp. This was 100 percent about the safety of our citizens and making sure that we could follow the recommended guidelines set forth by the CDC and the Department of Community Health,” said Estes.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s latest Executive Order has made it possible to have somewhat of a “soft opening” at the Columns at Boone Park Community Center. The order allows up to 25 people in a single location and larger groups can gather if there is enough space to social distance those in attendance.

The SCPRD has now resumed team gymnastic practices. They have also included limited open gym time where up to 20 people can enter the basketball

gymnasiums to play basketball or pickleball. The agency will allow up to 10 people in each gymnasium.

The SCPRD also plans to open the splash pad: an aquatics playground that features both above ground spray features and in ground fountains that are controlled by a computer program. They will allow up to 20 people at the splash pad when it opens in the next few days pending health department approval.

Along with the limited numbers of people, there are also limited hours of operation. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM. There will be no weekend hours or inside rentals during the month of June.

While they are going through this “soft opening”, several measures are in place to meet strict guidelines. There is signage throughout the building explaining that possible patrons who may have experienced symptoms of Coronavirus, such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath, are asked not to enter the building. A hand sanitization station, along with signage, is visible as one enters the front door asking all patrons of this public building to sanitize their hands prior to entering the facility.

There will be multiple hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the building and in each restroom. All patrons must sign a waiver upon witnessing or participating in their chosen activity that includes language about the risks of Coronavirus. There will be social distancing markers posted on the floor so that patrons who are waiting in line can remain six feet apart. In the gymnastic center, Coach Melissa Singley has set up break stations and crates for the gymnasts to remain at the recommended distance from each other while on a break from their conditioning and elementary routines. All bleachers in each gymnasium and throughout the gymnastics center have been marked for social distancing with an X to show everyone where they can sit while attending an activity.

The staff of the SCPRD spent several hours of their down time cleaning and sanitizing the Columns at Boone Park Community Center and has ramped up their efforts on a daily basis.

“We realize that parents are seeking activities for their children and we want to be able to provide them to our citizens. We are grateful for everyone’s understanding of our limited times and offerings as we make every effort to stay within the recommended guidelines” said Estes. “It is our hope that we can continue to see the severity of this pandemic decrease over the next few weeks and that we can hopefully be ready for the Fall programs of Football, Soccer, Cheer and Recreational gymnastics classes”.

For questions or further information: Call 229-924-4878 or visit the SCPRD online at www.scprd.org.