Smooth opening at Firestone Park

By reusing bricks from the old gutters, ODOT has managed to keep the historical elements of the park, while creating a new and safer design. (Submitted photo)

COLUMBIANA — The weeks leading into the opening of the pool at Firestone Park were stressful ones for the city and park board. With so many guidelines to follow from the CDC, Gov. Mike DeWine and the county health department, city park board president Ron Detwiler admitted that it was unclear what the pool would look like.

After one week of opening the pool, the staff and citizens have answered the challenge of a short leash, as Detwiler said at Monday’s park board meeting it has been a smooth opening so far.

“Everything has been good, and we haven’t had any problems or received any complaints,” Detwiler said. “The crowds have not been big, so we’ve been able to manage all of the guidelines.”

With limitations to Columbiana residents only, the park board believed there might be a problem with residents of neighboring communities trying to get in, but that has not been the case through the first week.

Since the attendance hasn’t been high, Detwiler said it has been easy to comply with social distancing. In terms of sanitation, two new lifeguards were added to the staff and are in charge of disinfecting the locker rooms and concession stand areas every two hours.

Every two weeks, the park board with look through the new guidelines and decide to make any necessary changes, including number of visitors, which is limited to 150 right now. Detwiler said that although the baby pool isn’t being used very much, it is open, and visitors don’t have to pay to use it.

In other business, the ODOT project is progressing and Detwiler said people have been very happy with the sidewalks and drainage. Sidewalks and gutters in the park are being refurbished using the original bricks.

City Manager Lance Willard and the Restoration and Beautification Committee are looking into an additional grant to expand the project throughout the park. ODOT is on schedule to finish the project on Aug. 4 and they are about 10 days ahead of schedule.

Concerts in the park have been canceled in the park up to this point, but council made a decision on Monday regarding the remaining concerts. Initially there were three concerts left in the year on July 19, Aug. 9 and Aug 23. The park board made the decision to move the July concert to the beginning of September and pick up the concerts starting on Aug. 9.

“The reasoning for our decision is really simple,” Detwiler said. “Not only is the virus of the most concern, but the construction of the sidewalks will finish up on Aug. 4. For safety purposes, that will all fall into place.”

As long as DeWine’s 10-person limit is still active, Willard said it will be difficult to reopen the pavilions without being able to enforce the area.

“What we’re going to do is wait and see what the governor says after July and see if anything changes,” Willard said. “If we can’t have gatherings over 10 people, how are we supposed to rent the pavilions? The pool is staffed, but we can’t do that with the pavilions right at the moment.”

If the governor relaxes the restriction on the number of people, Willard said they will be prepared to make the necessary changes.

The next park board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 27.



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