Fairfield offering limited recreation options this summer: What to know

The city plans to have its fireworks show this July 3, but there will be no activities planned at Harbin and Village Green parks, nor the Fairfield Aquatic Center, due to concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The city is working with Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks to make the show higher for it to be seen at a greater distance, but that will likely result in a 15-minute show, city officials said. Pictured are Rozzi crew members working on the 2015 Fairfield fireworks show. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
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The city plans to have its fireworks show this July 3, but there will be no activities planned at Harbin and Village Green parks, nor the Fairfield Aquatic Center, due to concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The city is working with Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks to make the show higher for it to be seen at a greater distance, but that will likely result in a 15-minute show, city officials said. Pictured are Rozzi crew members working on the 2015 Fairfield fireworks show. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

Spring and summer in the city of Fairfield will be unusually restrictive, just like other places around the country, due to the novel coronavirus.

The city has relied on what other municipalities have done before reopening its parks and recreation department. It operates 15 types of business — including golf, fishing, pools, banquet centers and dining at its South Trace golf course clubhouse — and while most are able to operate with restrictions, some are too cost-prohibitive, such as the Fairfield Aquatic Center.

“We are, by nature, the community’s social connection,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Howard. “We’re the parks and recreation department, so obviously everything that’s socially connected has been impacted by COVID-19, which was 99 percent of our operations. We were impacted very abruptly and it hit us pretty hard.”

Everything but passive use of parks was shut down in mid-March after Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued orders. Howard said even before the first orders, though, Fairfield had responded “for the safety of our users and our community.”

The 55 Plus and Senior Lounge was closed, as was the city’s newly opened dog park, FurField, and playgrounds “just because of the nature of them being socially inviting, and all the touchpoints” as all of the surfaces needed frequent disinfection, she said.

DeWine announced on April 27 the “Responsible RestartOhio” plans and protocols, and in subsequent weeks opened various industries, which meant parks and recreation departments could slowly reopen parts of their operations.

“We are the industry of industries,” Howard said.

Golf operations could operate as of March 29 with restrictions, and they turned relaunched their weekly farmers market for pre-orders only at this time. But not much else was permitted until “Responsible RestartOhio” was launched. Most of the operations are permitted with restrictions, but as with the pools, it’s cost-prohibitive to open for the 2020 season.

“We’ve been very diligent with combing through (the standards put in place), finding out what we can do, what we can’t do, what we’re able to do financially, and human resources-wise.”

There are 37 major rules the city would have to adhere to before opening the pool, including:

• hiring supplemental staff to ensure patrons are following social distancing requirements;

• limit patrons to 120 people at any one time (their average daily attendance is 400 to 450 people day, but they have seen as many as 700);

• shut down every two hours to disinfect; and

• install physical barriers in the pool to ensure social distancing.

“As a customer service person, I think this would exhibit a negative experience for our patrons,” Howard said.

Pools will also fight for certified lifeguards.

As of now, Howard said Fairfield has only 13 lifeguards (and their certifications expire on July 13), and 40 are needed to operate the pool. There are no training and certification classes available at this time, she said.

Additionally, the city will not operate day camps as they, too, are “prohibitive to re-opening,” Howard said. City officials are reviewing the feasibility of other department services, such as venue rentals, fitness centers, inside dining at the South Trace and youth programming. The city is waiting on DeWine’s guidance for theater operations, playgrounds and dog parks, public restroom facilities, basketball courts and soccer fields, senior activities lounges, golf outings, and concerts and festivals.

Howard said the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association and municipal parks departments have asked for guidance.

Limited revenues are likely to return as banquet halls can resume operations as of Monday. Similar to restaurants, the capacity is limited to 50 percent, “which means for the (Community Arts Center) we can no longer have a wedding of 180 people.”

City residents still may be able to enjoy a Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks show on July 3, albeit a shortened show. As of now, Howard said there will be no city-sponsored events nor watch parties for the annual Red, White & Kaboom festival, and parks will close at dusk. “The cost-savings with reducing our show, we can reinvest into a larger-caliber shell to get them higher in the air so we can get a broader audience.”


NOW OPEN

The city of Fairfield has re-opened parts of the Parks and Recreation Department with restrictions as outlined by the state of Ohio. They include:

• Fishing at Marsh Lake

• Retail areas, (Marsh Lake bait house and South Trace golf course pro shop)

• Golf Courses

• Baseball and softball fields

• Tennis courts

• Outside dining at South Trace golf course clubhouse

• Parks and Recreation offices

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