Earliest pool opening June 1


The Chanute Recreation Commission outlined plans to reopen the rec center and play summer ball.

After the statewide stay-at-home order as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, officials hope to reopen businesses and activities in phases in the coming weeks.

Interim CRC Director Todd Newman told board members at Wednesday evening’s meeting that activities at the Lakeview Recreation outdoor area at Santa Fe Park are not difficult to restart, since participants can distance themselves. Board members received written copies of the reopening plan for the rec center itself for discussion.

Under Gov. Laura Kelly’s reopening Phase 1 plan, indoor leisure spaces, fitness facilities and public swimming pools cannot be open and gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people spread six feet apart for other businesses that are allowed to reopen.

After Wednesday evening’s discussion, Kelly announced a Phase 1.5 on Thursday. Beginning Monday, fitness centers and gyms may reopen, but gatherings are still limited to 10 people and swimming pools and community centers remain closed.

If the outbreak falls below certain criteria, Kelly may move to the second phase June 1, which will allow pools and community centers to reopen and gatherings of up to 30 people. The third phase, which begins no earlier than June 15, allows up to 90 people.

Newman said the plan is to open the rec center for walking and pickle-ball first. The final phase ends no earlier than June 30, when the center will resume open gym.

Newman said Thursday afternoon that the change moves the CRC schedule back two weeks.

Before it closed in March, the center installed fitness equipment as part of the Healthy Pathways grant program. Newman said that area will not reopen before the rest of the center.

The rec center hours will change to allow staff to sanitize after the walking and pickle-ball period and after open gym. Bleacher seats will be closed and participants are asked to bring their own basketballs, volleyballs and game balls.

“I think social distancing is going to be around all summer,” Newman said, adding that the center has never had as many as 90 people in the gym, probably 50 at most.

Participants under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or adult, and everyone must provide a working telephone number when they sign in. Restrooms will be limited.

Newman said local agencies can usually search online for other community policies as a guide.

“It is an unprecedented time,” Program Director Monica Colborn said.

The CRC will begin registration for summer baseball and softball on May 18 and registration will last two weeks. The American Legion league has cancelled its season, although Babe Ruth is still scheduled.

Last year’s summer baseball and softball had 350 kids, but the program is down one baseball and one softball field due to renovations at Santa Fe Park. The CRC program may be able to use the Katy Park field this year, although it is currently without a scoreboard and may still be used by older teams playing unsanctioned games. Chanute teams likely will not play other towns.

Board members also got an update and report on the possible opening of Maring Aquatic Center. Newman met with city commissioners Monday evening about the pool, which actually operates under the city in the Parks Department.

Although the CRC no longer operates the pool, the aquatic center is on the rec center campus, visitors will likely go from the pool to the rec center, and CRC staff may have to field complaints.

Newman told the CRC board that the major issue seems to be staff. The city has not made a decision, but has a consensus to open at some point.

“There’s a lot of questions that are unknown,” Newman said. “It’s uncharted territory.”

Colborn said the public holds a misconception that chlorine will kill the coronavirus. That may be true in the water, but not on surfaces outside, and standards keep changing on the level of chlorine and sanitation the staff must do.

“(Swim) meets are probably out,” Newman said.

In a normal year, lifeguards would have already received Red Cross training with the pool opening scheduled for the weekend before Memorial Day. Officials are unsure if students will apply for a summer job in a shortened season, or if parents will let them apply.

City officials discussed closing the lazy river feature to reduce the number of lifeguards necessary, but the feature would still be a drowning hazard if it is filled or a hazard for falls if it is drained. The water slide and kiddie pool both connect to the lazy river, and could not be used if it is drained.

In other business, the CRC board voted to name Colborn as interim director and suspended its contract with the city for Newman as director.

Newman, who replaced previous director Steve Slane, takes over Friday as interim city manager from Jeff Cantrell, who has accepted a position in Hutchinson. The board also approved a $5,000 salary increase for Colborn.

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