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Pool opening still up in the air


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

The Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Commission tabled action last Friday on a proposal to not open the new aquatic center and cancel travel tournaments for the summer.

Parks and Rec Director Patrick Manning told the commission that the guidance he has received calls for the cancellation of both.

Manning was speaking of the Kentucky Recreation Parks Society, the Kentucky Dept. for Public Health and the governor’s office.

Manning said the commission’s programs committee was recommending the steps be taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even if the dept. was to get clearance to open the aquatic center, Manning said it would take two to three weeks to get lifeguards trained and social distancing would limit the number of people who could utilize the pool.

The dept. could also allow small groups to use the pool and the Gators swim team, but he didn’t see that as fair to the public.
Financially, Manning said it also makes little sense to open the pool for just a few weeks.

Still, he said, it would be very disappointing to go without a pool after investing $2 million into its construction over the past year. It was scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend.

As for travel team sports, Manning said it would be hard to police social distancing requirements.

Manning and some board members said they didn’t believe travel tournaments should be allowed if there are no local league sports being played.

Board Vice Chair James Davis, however, said the commission may be too hasty in making a decision about the pool and travel tournaments now, rather than waiting.

“I think to say we’re not going to open (the pool) for the summer on May 22 is a little premature,” Davis said.

Board member Jason Oney reminded the commission that more guidance may be forthcoming from the governor’s office between now and June 15 when low-touch and outdoor youth sports are tentatively scheduled to reopen.

Board member James Willoughby agreed that it might be best to make a decision once all the information is available.

The commission scheduled its next meeting for noon Tuesday, June 16, in the administrative offices at the aquatic center located off the Bypass next to the Clay Community Center.

A decision on the aquatic center opening is possible at that meeting.
The community has been without a pool for the last three years. The last of the two pools at the old facility closed after the 2016 swim season when inspectors found it unsafe to open. It had fallen into a state of disrepair.

In other action, the commission:
• Was told that the dept. had sent out refunds for the baseball and softball leagues May 19.

• Was informed that the dept. plans to make the tennis courts and shelters available beginning July 1 and the basketball courts and restrooms starting Sept. 1.

The playgrounds may open Aug. 1 if proper sanitization and social distancing can be ensured, Manning said.

He noted that disc golf, soccer golf, the dog park, walking paths and green space have remained open throughout the pandemic.
• Was informed that the restaurant tax collection for the first quarter was down about $10,000 from normal and the second quarter figures were expected to be worse.

Restaurants have been closed to in-person traffic since mid-March until allowed to reopen last week. While some restaurants locally have resumed in-person dining, others have opted to continue curbside or delivery for the time being.

The first quarter extends from Jan. 1 through March 31 with the second quarter from April 1 through June 30.

• Was informed that CMW Architects is working on the playground/restroom project at Easy Walker Park.

• Was informed that Roger Barnes is working on the crack filling on the walking paths at Easy Walker and Botts parks.