City of Lima cancels wide swath of summer programming

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Due to expected budget shortfalls and restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus, the City of Lima has announced the cancellations of a wide range of summer activities meant to keep children busy while out of school.

Schoonover Pool’s summer season and the city’s Summer Playground program have officially been nixed for 2020.

The two programs often draw hundreds of children throughout the summer, and many Lima residents depend on them to keep their children busy and fed when they’re out of school.

“Those two events are challenges for us every year to run under normal circumstances that just became insurmountable this year from a health and safety point of view and economic point of view,” Lima Parks and Rec Department Director Stolly said.

As a replacement for the playground program, Stolly said the city department will still be providing some summer-time activities virtually.

Physical activities, lessons, crafts and other material normally available through the summer program will be posted throughout the summer season on the city’s parks and rec department’s Facebook page to provide children with a healthy alternative.

The parks themselves, however, will largely stay open as they are today with restrictions on playgrounds and basketball courts.

Other events canceled by the City of Lima on Wednesday include a number of seasonal jobs, the Lima Police Department’s “Coffee with a Cop” events, LPD’s 2020 Summer Police Academy for high school students and the Lima Noon Optimist Club’s Safety City program.

Mayor David Berger also announced the cessation of the recently launched Youth Commission programs meant to provide wraparound services for students at North Middle School and St. Gerard Elementary School.

While the cancellations occurred largely because of statewide restrictions against mass gatherings, the City of Lima also faces an up to 20% shortfall in revenue due to expected decreases in income tax. Canceling the city’s summer programs will help city departments save dollars as most such programs operate at a loss, Mayor David Berger said.

“We really don’t know how long it’s going to last. And we don’t know the permanence of that damage,” Berger said. ”But we can’t wait until we know precisely. We have to take steps now to begin to reduce expenses, and for the city, that involves a whole range of activities.”

Other budgetary measures the city is considering includes temporary voluntary furloughs, encouraging early retirements and potentially planning for mandatory layoffs.

While many programs have been canceled this summer, a few are still sitting in holding patterns until more information is available. Youth baseball, youth softball and adult softball are still slated to start June 1 for the time being, and organizers will re-examine the launch date later on May 20 to make a final decision on whether to hold the season.

Similarly, the 16th annual Charity Video Game Tournament sponsored by Barry’s Electronics, whose proceeds benefit the Lima Police Department, is still on for July 18 after its original postponement.

“The COVID-19 crisis is real, and all of us have to appreciate that,” Berger said. “It is not going to go away soon.”

By Josh Ellerbrock

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