COVID hurts rec center & golf course revenues; Santa visit cancelled

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Photo courtesy of the Groveport Recreation Center
Part-time Groveport Recreation Center staff member Joe McDowell is shown here cleaning a stationary recumbent bike at the Groveport Recreation Center. Equipment at the facility is sanitized frequently.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pinched revenue for the Groveport Recreation Center and the Groveport Municipal Golf Course, as well as causing the cancellation of popular recreation center programs and events.

Recreation Center cancellations
According to Groveport Recreation Center Director Kyle Lund, in response to the COVID-19 Health Advisory issued by Franklin County Public Health, the city of Groveport cancelled the Visit With Santa program scheduled for Dec. 4 and 11.

Additionally, Lund said all programs, classes, leagues, clinics and special events at the Groveport Recreation Center are cancelled through Dec. 31 in response to the COVID-19 Health Advisory issued by Franklin County Public Health.

“Our staff is processing pro-rated refunds for programs that are currently underway,” said Lund. “For persons who have registered for a program that has yet to start, a full-refund will be issued.

The Groveport Recreation Center, located at 7370 Groveport Road, is open for exercise and wellness. Hours are Monday – Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m, and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The indoor swimming pool remains open.

“Use of the six lap lanes is first-come first-serve,” said Lund. “Only one swimmer is permitted to be in a lane at a time. Use of the leisure pool is by reservation. We have separated the leisure pool into three zones with numbered signage and flagging. Members may make a reservation no sooner than seven days in advance. No more than eight persons from the same immediate household may be in a zone at a time. Members may only reserve one session per day. Sessions are 60 minutes in length.”

Hours for the indoor pool vary slightly from the overall facility schedule. Indoor pool schedules are posted monthly.

Attendance down
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our recreation center attendance is down about four times our norm for this time of year,” said Lund.

For example, the average daily attendance on a Monday at the recreation center last January, before the pandemic hit, was 528. As of October, the average daily attendance on a Monday was 173. Other days of the week show a similar decline in attendance at the recreation center.

At the Groveport Municipal Golf Course, located at 1005 Richardson Road, rounds played year to date by October 2019 were 24,315. In October 2020 the year to date number of rounds fell to 20,300.

Groveport Golf Director Tom Walker did note in his November report to Groveport City Council that, “Play continues to be steady with the warm weather.”

Walker said that, in response to the pandemic and under the guidance of the Franklin County Board of Health, changes to the golf course operation were made to promote social distancing and avoid gatherings.

“As a result tee times were adjusted to 15 minutes, instead of 10 minute intervals,” said Walker. “Losing what equates to 33 percent of capacity has been a challenge, but we have remained extremely busy, especially in the months of July, August, September, and October.”

Loss of revenue
According to Groveport Finance Director Jason Carr, the outdoor Groveport Aquatic Center swimming pool generated $442,352 in revenue in 2019, but due to the pandemic in 2020, the pool was closed and generated zero revenue.

In a report to council, Carr stated the recreation fund and golf course fund year to date in October 2020 were down $934,249 and $112,299 respectively.

Carr noted, due to the pandemic and the current operating environment, city officials anticipate the need to increase transfer money from the general fund to these departments because they cannot generate sufficient revenue from operations as they had in the past.

The city’s 2021 budget takes steps toward alleviating revenue shortfalls being experienced by the Groveport Recreation Center and the Groveport Municipal Golf Course. The budget transfers monies from the general fund of $2 million for the Groveport Recreation Center and $1.3 million for the Groveport Municipal Golf Course.

Safety precautions
“Due to COVID-19 pandemic, a number of modifications were made to the facility, operations, policies and procedures,” said Lund. “Members are asked to sanitize the equipment before and after use. Prior to the pandemic, members were asked to sanitize after their use. We scheduled more staff to assist in the sanitization process. Full-time staff are cleaning when needed.”

Lund said equipment is spaced a minimum of six feet apart.

“The vast majority of seating in our lounge was replaced with 13 pieces of fitness equipment to accommodate social distancing,” said Lund. “Half of a gym now houses 27 pieces of fitness equipment that are spread at least six feet apart.”

The baby sitting room, climbing wall and showers are closed. Drinking fountains were turned off and all vending machines were removed. The large fans were turned off.

“Staff are not only cleaning fitness equipment, but also spend a lot of time cleaning other high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, elevator buttons, counter tops, trash cans, railings, etc.,” said Lund. “Members have done an excellent job social distancing and conforming to the new normal. Dozens of members thanked us for all we have done to create and maintain a safe environment.”

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, people are asked to wear a face covering in the facility any time they are not actively exercising. Staff is also taking members’ temperatures.

“Prior to moving beyond our front desk, our staff takes each patron’s temperature and asks if he/she is experiencing any COVID symptoms,” said Lund. “From the minute we re-opened on May 28, 2020, our members have been appreciative of everything we’ve done to make our facility safe.”

At the golf course, Walker said there is a requirement of one person per golf cart, unless from the same household or related. Each cart is sanitized after each use, scorecards and pencils are no longer on the carts. Items such as bunker rakes, water coolers, and ball washers have been removed.

“Also we installed an easy lift system to the flagsticks so players don’t need to reach into the cup to retrieve their golf ball,” said Walker. “In the clubhouse we set up remote stations 15 feet from the golf shop counter and are only accepting credit card at this time to minimize close contact between employees and customers.”

He said customers are asked to sanitize their hands prior to making contact with anything on the table. Also the city installed a temperature detection device that customers check prior to paying for golf.

“Overall under the circumstances I believe we have fared well,” said Walker. “We haven’t had any occurrences of COVID contractions that I’m aware of here at the course while being able to operate.”

Importance of exercise
“Exercise is extremely important, especially during a pandemic,” said Lund. “Doctors cannot prescribe a pill that will replace exercise.”

Lund cited the benefits of physical activity: controlling, maintaining or losing weight; reducing cardiovascular disease; strengthening bones and muscles; improving flexibility; managing arthritis pain; helping to prevent cognitive decline; improving mood and mental health; alleviating anxiety and depression; reducing risk for certain types of cancers; building self-confidence; lessening risk for type 2 diabetes; improving coordination; living longer; meeting new friends; and briefly escaping stressors.

Walker said, golf, if done correctly and responsibly by nature allows for social distancing and is good exercise.

“So with many other options unavailable golf is an excellent option to get out of the house and chasing the little white ball around,” said Walker.

Membership information
Groveport Recreation Center memberships can purchased at the facility, located at 7370 Groveport Road, Groveport. Both annual and 30 day memberships for residents and non-residents are available. For information on membership rates, classifications, payment options, and discounts, visit www.groveportrec.com.

“People who purchase their annual membership by the end of the year during our Merry Fitness Special will receive an extra month for free,” said Lund. “That’s 13 months for the price of 12. A Groveport Recreation Center membership makes for a great holiday gift. An annual membership to the GRC means you care about someone’s wellness and it gives back all year long.”

Regarding the Groveport Municipal Golf Course, Walker said, “We still have a moratorium on season passes sales. We’re mostly operating as a daily fee course.”

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