Ready to reopen

Standing behind numerous large glass protective panels at the front desk of the Campbell County Recreation Center Tuesday afternoon, recreation superintendent Adam Gibson makes last-minute checks to ensure the center is ready to open back up to the public starting Wednesday morning.

The long-anticipated reopening of the Campbell County Recreation Center will happen at 5 a.m. Wednesday, ending a 50-day closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rec Center staff has been diligent in preparing for the reopening, and Recreation Superintendent Adam Gibson said he’d rather be overly cautious than allow any added health risks for the public.

Some areas and a number of machines in the center will remain closed to maintain social distancing. Cleaning efforts also have been ramped up with extra supplies and staff. They were putting those supplies to use Tuesday afternoon. They've also been setting the facility up to handle patrons while also being mindful of existing public health orders that mandate social distancing.

“We’re making sure people are at least 6 feet apart and I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” Gibson said. “We’re doing above and beyond what the governor is telling us to do. We just want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

The precautions will start when patrons walk in the front doors, which now are marked “enter” and “exit” to ensure people aren't closely walking past one another.

The next step to getting into the building is a non-contact temperature test. An infrared thermometer is pointed at a patron’s forehead and if their reading is under 100 degrees, they can enter.

Several changes also have been made in the exercise areas, but Gibson said he thinks the Rec Center still has the capacity to handle its anticipated demand of customers and do it safely.

Programs and activities that usually started after school in the afternoon and school physical education classes that would normally come into the facility will no longer be held. That will cut down on a large number of visitors, he said.

“I don’t think we’ll be slammed," Gibson said. "But if we are, we’ll be ready for it and we’ll be monitoring it."

The Rec Center will limit the number of people in an area to nine, Gibson said. Each area, such as the cardio section, can be roped off and be separated if things get busy. That will help staff better monitor the number of people in each area.

“It’s tough to put a capacity on it, because we could have quite a few in the facility and still use the Field House and everywhere else,” Gibson said about how many people the Rec Center can serve with the health measures in place. “It’ll be monitored from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. to make sure there’s not too many people in a certain area.”

Closures of the climbing wall, the aquatics area and a few other facilities have freed up staff for other important tasks. Overall, the Rec Center has added about 35 staff members, most working in four-hour shifts.

Cleaning and monitoring social distancing will be a big part of their responsibilities. Staff members will be constantly keeping any eye on the workout areas to limit them to nine people. Others will be standing by with cleaning supplies.

Gibson said that wiping down equipment after use has always been expected at the Rec Center and he expects people to continue to be vigilant in that area. The Rec Center has made triple the usual number of disinfectant spray bottles available for use.

To be on the safe side, there also will be six to nine staff members with their own sanitary bottles. They’ll watch as equipment is used and will be on the spot to wipe it down if the patron doesn’t.

Other health measures include:

  • Alternating cardio machines will be out of order, which ensures about 7 to 10 feet between each that could be in use. Overall, 45 cardio machines have been taken out of commission. Similar precautions have been taken in the weight lifting area, with half the benches being removed.
  • Each basketball court also will be limited to one person or one family at a time. The same goes for racquetball ball courts.
  • The track that wraps around the second story of the building will remain closed because social distancing couldn’t be guaranteed when someone runs past walkers.
  • Walking and running will be limited to the Field House, where there are six lanes and enough room to maintain 6 feet of distance.
  • Another change is that a parent must be present for anyone 15 and younger, because it’s difficult to enforce social distancing when young friends get together, Gibson said.

The Rec Center staff has been overly cautious, even to the extent of “overkill,” Gibson said. But that’s the price they’re willing to pay to open the doors and keep them open.

“We’re extremely excited to get the patrons back in here. You don’t really realize how much you’ll miss it until you don’t have it anymore,” he said. “We miss all of our regulars.”

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