LIMA — A popular Memorial Day weekend vacation destination in Lima will not be available to visitors this weekend, yet another victim in the state’s battle against the novel coronavirus.
Several community swimming pools that traditionally use the holiday to kick off their seasons will also remain devoid of the joyful sound of laughter. Unless you already have a reservation, state park campgrounds are also off limits for the time being.
Tyler Black, deputy director of the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District, said the campgrounds at the Ottawa Metro Park will not open until sometime next week, and the swimming beach at the park won’t open at all this summer.
The decision to keep the beach shuttered all season didn’t come easily, Black said. Making preparations and finding lifeguards for the swimming beach is a difficult and time-consuming endeavor on the best of years, and 2020 has been anything but that.
The 30-site campground, Black said, will open for business — just not in time for the upcoming holiday weekend. An announcement last week by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine that campgrounds could open their doors on May 21 came too late for metro park officials to adequately ready the facilities.
Black said he realizes campers will be disappointed to learn that the campgrounds at the metro park will not open in time for the Memorial Day crowd but stressed that safety and health considerations trump all other concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Lovers of the great outdoors will find most other options limited this holiday weekend.
According to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman, state park campgrounds reopened May 21 for customers with existing reservations only. Walk-in campers will be turned away.
Restrooms and shower houses are limited at state facilities and other overnight accommodations and amenities, such as cabins, getaway rentals, group camps, shelters, camp stores, pools and splash pads, will remain closed. Public outdoor spaces at Ohio’s state parks remain open, as do wildlife areas.
Community pools: A mixed bag
Community swimming pools in Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties traditionally use Memorial Day as a target date for season openings, weather permitting. This year, however, is quite different. None will open in time for the holiday weekend. Some won’t open at all this summer.
The Ada Village Council voted earlier this week to move forward with plans to open the community swimming pool this season, with a tentative opening date of July 1. Administration is currently working on developing plans to meet the mandatory state requirements.
Village administrator Jesse Blackburn said officials are eyeing an early June opening for the Bluffton pool.
“The exact date hasn’t been determined yet but we will be following Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Safety is our number one goal,” Blackburn said.
Admittance to the pool will be limited, at least initially, to person who live, work or go to school in the Bluffton community.
A meeting of Delphos City Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee is scheduled for next week to discuss various options associated with the opening of the municipal-owned swimming pool.
The Putnam County YMCA holds a contract to run the community swimming pools in Ottawa, Columbus Grove and Leipsic. Those facilities will open at some point, but a spokeswoman could not give exact dates.
The Ottawa Memorial Pool, according to the municipal website, will be open with a restriction on the number of patrons in the pool area at one time. Several new policies have been put in place for staff and guests to follow before entering the facility and for using water features such as slides and diving boards.
Social distancing will be monitored by staff during the time the pool is open, and all employees will wear masks. Before entering the pool, every patron will be asked questions about recent travel and current health issues. Masks are strongly recommended for all guests while inside the facility as they are sitting around the pool deck or going to the restroom or to the concession stand.
Employees will undergo daily health checks.
The St. Marys Family Aquatic Center will not open this summer, according to St. Marys Mayor Patrick McGowan. He said the facility is unable to implement mandatory upgrades as required by the Ohio Department of Health and DeWine.
“Such requirements include social distancing of all patrons, both in and out of the water; no gatherings in groups of different households; reduced capacity to allow six feet of distance between users and cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms and common areas every two hours and in some areas after every use.
“The reduced capacity would permit only 51 patrons in both pools combined … and the level of staff needed to operate the facility as required makes it impossible to open and effectively manage the pool this summer,” McGowan said.
The Wapakoneta water park will open for the season on June 6. Mayor Tom Stinebaugh said residents of his town and the surrounding area, especially those of school age, have faced a great deal of adversity in recent months “and we feel it’s important that these kids have something to do.”
The pool will offer two daily sessions, with a period in between set aside for a thorough cleaning. The first session is 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. Only residents from the Wapakoneta school district will be permitted from 11-11:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m. patrons will be required to exit the facility while the pool is cleaned and disinfected. The second session is 3-7 p.m. The first 30 minutes of the session is set aside for residents of the local school district.
At all times the attendance maximum number of people inside will be 600.
At Lake Cody, a campground north of Lima near the intersection of U.S. 30 and state Route 65, camping and fishing opportunities will be available this weekend but swimming remains off limits. State guidelines have set May 26 at the first permissible date for that activity.
A spokeswoman at Lake Cody said guests will be encouraged to engage in social distancing, remain in groups of 1o or fewer and “wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.”
Camp Clay Aqua Park and Splash Pad in Van Wert has postponed its season opening “until state and local guidelines are released and it is determined it is safe to open,” according to the facility’s website.
Huggy Bear Campground near Middle Point will be open to weekend campers this weekend, but most amenities, including swimming, miniature golf and the use of shelter houses, at the site will remain closed to guests. Swimming at the campground is permitted starting next Tuesday.