By Ris Twigg
The Obetz Splash Pad is scheduled to reopen July 1 with state and federal guidelines in place, Obetz Village Council announced at its June 22 meeting.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health issued a series of guidelines specific to operating public pools and splash pads in the state of Ohio. Obetz Village Administrator Rod Davisson said he hopes his staff will be prepared to implement each of those changes by July 1.
“We’re scrambling to pull off the guidelines,” Davisson said. “The order’s been out for a minute, but the trick is you have to absorb the order, understand what the requirements are, then build those requirements and make sure you have the appropriate staffing.”
The Splash Pad — like the Obetz Athletic Club — is increasing its staff to ensure regular cleaning and sanitizing of chairs, equipment, restrooms and other on-site areas.
Some of the state’s mandates include installing physical barriers in high-interaction areas between patrons and staff, prohibiting large groups from gathering in the shelterhouse, increased sanitization, continuing to test the water and social distancing.
Davisson believes social distancing will be one of the more difficult guidelines to enforce, adding he isn’t sure if the Splash Pad will need an occupancy limit.
“Obviously there is a practical limit and you have gathering limits,” he said. “I’m still working my way through whether or not that park has to have a limit.”
Because of the additional requirements and staffing needed to run the Splash Pad, the food service will not be opening this year, Davisson said.
“The Splash Pad will be open, but it won’t be open in the way people are used to. It’s just going to be different,” he said. “It’s an important public asset. We’ll keep adapting to the changes. We’re trying to make sure our residents have the opportunity to enjoy that this summer in a safe way.”
The government building and the Obetz Athletic Club are continuing to operate with limited capacity. Fortress Obetz and the Obetz Community Center are still closed. Rental facilities and the Obetz Senior Center will be closed throughout the month of July, but could open in August, Davisson said.
For a small town like Obetz, keeping up with the changing health orders can be costly and difficult. One month, the village could spend a significant amount of money on one health order, only for a new guideline — with new costs — to take its place the next month, Davisson said.
“It’s really like starting over again, and then you rebuild the whole thing in a way to where it really wasn’t designed to work that way. It’s certainly not easy for a smaller town like us, or Groveport, the ones that don’t have 500 employees to do all this stuff,” he said.