The Trenton Family Aquatic Center will not open this summer, and playgrounds will not open until at least mid-June.
The Trenton Park Board voted the evening of Wednesday, June 3rd to close the pool for summer 2020. The vote was taken after a discussion of multiple factors, including current guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and lifeguards.
Board President Duane Helmandollar reported he, Park Superintendent Jason Shuler, and Mayor Linda Crooks had done a lot of research on the possibility of opening the pool, including some already in January. Helmandollar said he has talked to Grundy County Health Department Administrator Elizabeth Gibson about three times a week for multiple weeks to keep up with guidelines, which change weekly.
Gibson recommended following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The aquatic center would have only been able to operate at 25% occupancy, which means a total 60 individuals would have been able to be admitted. That number would have included lifeguards.
Helmandollar said the pool usually loses $20,000 to $30,000 each year at full capacity, and it would have lost more at 25% capacity. Last season’s pool prices were going to be carried over to this year.
He noted the Park Board would have had to form a plan to open the pool and have it approved by the health department before the pool could have opened. Some employees would have had to make sure everyone followed rules.
Shuler commented that he spoke to a Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association representative about any insurance guidelines. The representative told him Trenton should use the local health department guidelines. The representative also said it could overwhelm lifeguards if there were more things to do other than save lives.
Pool Manager Emily Kasinger reported only 15 lifeguards had been hired for this season, and there are usually 30. She said it usually takes 10 employees to operate the pool each day.
She noted only eight guards are Red Cross certified, and that included her. One has never been certified, and the rest would have needed to be recertified. It was noted certification was not being held in the area this year because of guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Kasinger said some of the guards had expressed concern about being infected with the virus while on the job.
Shuler mentioned all pool staff has to be certified as per a rule adopted by the Park Board in the past. That means employees could not have been hired just to make sure guidelines are being followed.
Mayor Crooks attended the meeting. She said it was important to keep employees and others safe.
Helmandollar said Health Department Administrator Gibson told him she was not sure how Chillicothe was able to operate its pool. However, he had heard Chillicothe’s pool attendance numbers were down.
He believes guidelines are determined by individual health departments.
Shuler said he believes the rules regarding COVID-19 should either be followed or not. There should not be an in between.
Helmandollar added that since the pool will not open this season, painting and maintenance would be done on it.
He reported Health Department Administrator Gibson recommended the Park Department follow the governor’s order to keep the playgrounds closed through Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan. Phase 1 was originally set to end May 31st, but it was extended through June 15th. Trenton playgrounds could be reopened when Phase 1 ends.
Helmandollar noted there would be liability if the Park Department did not follow the guidelines.
Shuler reported the Park Department has fought rain trying to keep caught up with mowing. Trim spraying for weeds is done.
The perimeter fence at the ADA playground is almost complete. The fence border and access ramps need to be installed.
The top, middle, and bottom fence rails are being installed at the discus area. The fence fabric will be installed as time allows.
Shuler said spring and summer softball and baseball have been canceled. Bathrooms at the fields are not open.
He has received several calls about renting ball fields. He noted he would have to notify the American Legion it could not play a game at Burleigh Grimes before June 15th due to guidelines.
Helmandollar said he had calls about renting the Rock Barn, too. It, too, is affected by guidelines and will not open to the public until at least June 15th.
He thanked Park Board Member Mary Peterson and Vena Hicks for planting flowers in the planters at the Rock Barn and Downtown. Kathy Brewer also helped with the planting Downtown.
This was Trenton City Council Member Brad Chumbley’s last Park Board meeting as a liaison. He thanked the board and said he appreciates its work. He also said the city’s parks look nice.