by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
The Sanibel Recreation Center’s two-phased reopening plan was approved Tuesday by City Council. The facility has been closed since March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will officially open with limited offerings and under reduced hours on Monday, June 15. However, its lobby will open at 8 a.m. Monday, June 8, only for summer youth camp registration and the sale of residential beach parking stickers.
The city had budgeted to reopen the facility on July 1, but council’s decision to reopen 12 days earlier was mostly driven by the need for childcare through the summer camp. Many camps are not being offered this year due to the pandemic, possibly making the recreation center’s camp especially important to families.
Mayor Kevin Ruane said he had a “high degree of confidence the camp will be successful.”
The cost of phase one operation, including the summer camp, is estimated at $202,596 through July 31. That figure incorporates a projected revenue of $71,442 based on the camp at full capacity. But the earlier opening will cost an additional $40,000.
Recreation Center staff proposed the expenses be funded from the department’s sinking fund, which was established to cover large, known capital costs for the facility, such as a roof or HVAC replacement. Council seemed cautious to spend nearly $243,000 of that fund and agreed to look at other avenues to cover the additional operating cost.
City Manager Judie Zimomra told council members labor costs would be controlled as much as possible and three full-time employees would remain furloughed. The proposal stated the plan does not provide for the level of service members have previously experienced, but the recreation center will remain a friendly place.
Programs Offered in Phase One
Patrons will have 45 minutes of access to the weight room at a maximum capacity of eight members with zones around the equipment and one member allowed per zone.
The pool will be open for lap swim only at a maximum of six members. Pool-side lounging will not be allowed and deck furniture removed.
Two of the four tennis courts will be accessible at a max capacity of four players per court for 50 minutes.
Patrons must make a reservation and will be asked to wait in their vehicles until five minutes prior to their appointment to avoid congestion in the lobby, which will have a maximum capacity of six patrons at one time.
The family restrooms will be open, but the showers and locker rooms remain closed. Drinking fountains will only be available to refill water bottles.
Center for Disease Control social distancing signs will be posted. Additional disposable wipe containers, as well as hand sanitizer, will be provided.
Phase two simply adds the summer camp. Programs not offered in these phases, as well as the after-school program and operating funds through the end of the city’s fiscal year on Sept. 30, will be discussed in future council meetings.
The recreation center’s reduced hours are from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.