WEIRTON — The Weirton Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners decided at a special meeting to move forward with plans to re-open the Weirton Millsop Community Center (WMCC) on Monday, June 8, with restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We’ve maintained all along the center would re-open when a solid plan to safely and responsibly operate was in place,” Park Board Executive Director Coty Shingle said. “We have a great plan in place, which will depend greatly on the public being responsible and respectful toward those they encounter while using our facilities.”
Shingle said the decision was the result of weeks of discussion, deliberation and consideration among Park Board members, city officials and WMCC administrative staff.
“It has been an exhaustive and comprehensive process,” Shingle said. “One that has sought the input of many city officials, and we (the Park Board) are grateful for the input and the continued leadership and support provided by City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo, his staff, the mayor, city council and everyone who’s had a part in the process.
“This isn’t just a situation where we throw the doors open at Millsop and let everyone have at it. There are a lot of mitigation guidelines that will be important to observe, and maybe even some tweaking of established policies as it becomes necessary to guard public safety, which has consistently remained our number-one priority.”
In order to enter WMCC and utilize the facilities, all adult patrons will have to sign a waiver where they’ll acknowledge that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still very real and that all mitigation guidelines must be strictly adhered to or user privileges may be revoked. Likewise, parents who intend for their minor children to be unattended at WMCC will have sign the same waiver.
There will be multiple postings throughout WMCC noting facility guidelines and room occupancies and Park Board staff will be patrolling the facility to ensure that policies and procedures are being followed.
“Aside from clear social distancing, many times of the day, it’ll be hard to tell there’s anything different from a user’s perspective,” Shingle said. “The great majority of our patrons come and go pretty quickly. They do their workouts, clean up and get on their way. The biggest difference will be noticed in the late afternoon and evening when Millsop is typically teeming with patrons, particularly young people on the basketball court. Obviously, that type of activity will be impossible with the current guidelines.”
Shingle also noted that the look and feel of the WMCC swimming pool will probably seem much different to the dedicated patrons of the facility.
There will be a limit of 25 people permitted in the swimming pool area and gymnasium at WMCC, and social distancing will be required in both areas. Guidelines such as these dictate that the operation of fitness classes and basketball leagues will not return to normal with the re-opening of the center, but will be phased in at a later date as the need for stringent restrictions becomes less necessary.
The exercise equipment in all of the cardio training areas at WMCC has been socially distanced so all equipment in those rooms can be utilized while observing the mitigation guidelines.
In the weight training rooms, patrons will need to be conscious of social distancing and room occupancy guidelines, which may result in a waiting period to use a specific room or machine.
Shingle cautioned that one of the biggest risk areas and situations existing at WMCC for COVID-19 exposure will be entry to the building.
“Our patrons are going to have to be patient, more patient than they’ve ever been,” Shingle said. “Traffic in the entry area has also been quite regularly shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow. It can’t be that way when we re-open. People will need to maintain social distance at all times, follow posted markings and wait their turn to be served by Park Board staff.”
Adding to the wait time for patrons will be the need for each first-time visitor to WMCC to read and sign the waiver and hold harmless agreements that will be required of members and day pass users alike.
“It’s a necessary evil,” Shingle said. “Surely people can plainly see the need for it.”
The Park Board also announced that Edwin J. Bowman Field would re-open on Monday, June 8 as well, and that Starvaggi Pool would not be open at all this summer.
“We are, of course, disappointed that we won’t be able to open the pool,” Shingle said, “but, the bottom line is that we can’t provide a service that doesn’t meet the quality threshold we have set for ourselves. In the current situation we would simply be providing a substandard service, something unacceptable to the public and ourselves, and that’s a no-win situation for all of us.
“We’ll be back better than ever next year. We’re already pursuing some grant opportunities that will allow us to make significant improvements to our pool offerings at Starvaggi next summer.”
Many of the guidelines that will be in place when WMCC re-opens are listed below. The list below does not constitute the entirety of the guidelines in place, which will be posted around WMCC.
For more information on availability of facilities and mitigation guidelines in place, contact the Park Board staff at (304) 797-8520, or check out the Parks & Rec homepage at the cityofweirton.com, or the Weirton Millsop Community Center Facebook page.
- All Park Board staff must wear a mask when having interaction with patrons (this excludes the lifeguard who must be able to give understandable audible commands and use a whistle; lifeguards must maintain social distance at all times, unless a rescue attempt is imminent)
- All entrants must sign a waiver
- All facility users must maintain social distance at all times
- Locker room/shower areas open to maximum of 25 patrons, maintaining social distance
- Steam rooms close
All patrons must disinfect machines used before and after use, cleaner will be provided
Maximum of 25 patrons in swimming pool area, maintaining social distance
Maximum of 25 people in weight room, maintaining social distance
Machines in remaining workout areas are placed at social distance and occupancy cannot exceed the number of machines in the room
All land and water aerobics classes, birthday parties, pool and gymnasium rentals, and Park Board sanctioned events, programs and fundraisers remain postponed at this time
Rental of meeting space will be approved on a case by case basis, limiting occupancy in those areas to 40% of the room’s regular occupancy