TALLMADGE – Summer plans for the city remain on hold or canceled.
Mayor David Kline announced May 4 a list of closures and cancellations, including Maca Pool, to protect both the health and safety of Tallmadge residents and in response to the pandemic’s considerable financial impact on the city.
In addition, the Munroe Falls Metro Park swimming facility is closed for the 2020 season.
The current pandemic, and issues arising from it, have forced the city to rethink its position regarding events planned in Tallmadge this summer, Kline said. These issues include multiple public health-related orders from the state and the federal governments, the extension of the city’s declared emergency to May 15 and likely beyond, the substantial and likely long-term revenue reductions to the city caused by the pandemic and the significant planning and financial resources required to put on entertaining events and operate "non-essential" city facilities.
"As the city’s safety director, my top priority is protecting the safety and health of Tallmadge residents and employees," Kline said. "As the city’s mayor and chief executive officer, I must also be a responsible steward of the city’s resources, financial and otherwise. The difficult decisions I announce are made with these two most important priorities in mind and after long deliberation with community leaders."
Challenges with hiring staff, having enough time to prepare the facility for use, health department mandates and budgetary concerns have made it necessary to keep Maca Pool closed for 2020. City officials will contact those who have purchased passes to arrange for credit.
Maca Pool breaks even and makes a little bit of money each year so it doesn’t hurt revenue-wise but it hurts young people who work there, he said.
"If I don’t make an early decision to close the pool, all these kids will be waiting in the wings wondering if they will work at Maca Pool instead of looking for a job somewhere else," Kline said.
Given the specific health department mandates regarding the size of gatherings and social distancing, the following live events will not be held this summer: Parks and Recreation Summer Camp; Safety Town; Touch-a-Truck; Music on the Circle; Memorial Day Parade; and Circle Festival and Light Parade (Circlefest).
The city’s Parks and Recreation, Police, and Fire Departments are planning to provide online videos and virtual programming, instead of face-to-face gatherings, for summer camp, Touch-a-Truck and Safety Town. The details will be posted on the city’s web site https://tallmadge-ohio.org/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TallmadgeOhio/ when available.
"The public has been understanding for the most part about the closings," Kline said. "Some [people] don’t believe the virus should be causing any of this. I understand that, but I have to listen to the doctors, scientists and governor and follow the mandates put on us."
Kline said he will continue to listen to the Summit County Health Department and governor about limiting large groups from gathering.
"I’m looking at the safety of residents and employees," Kline said.
In lieu of the parade, Memorial Day will be recognized with a small private wreath ceremony conducted by the Tallmadge American Legion Post 255 in order to continue the consecutive 152-year tradition. Their intention is to video the ceremony and make it available online.
The following city facilities will remain closed to the public until at least June 1 (subject to change at any time): Recreation Center on North Munroe Road; all city-owned ball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds and public restrooms in city parks; and city rental facilities (e.g., Community Center, Richie Hall, Lions Hall, park pavilions, etc.).
"We look forward to the day when we can all be together again. But for now, we must adhere to the health guidelines set at the state and federal levels as we assess the economic impact of this unfortunate situation on our city," Kline said. "Please know that we are working tirelessly every day to keep our residents safe and protect our economy. Your patience and support as we navigate these extraordinary times are both needed and appreciated."
All the parks are open, but visitors should maintain social distancing, Kline said. No organized sports are allowed on the fields, playground equipment is off limits and restrooms are closed until the city decides when and how to open them.
"It’s a matter of cleaning them and making them safe," Kline said.
The governor’s mandates will determine what direction the city can go in the future, the mayor added.
For more information on the city’s response to the pandemic, visit https://tallmadge-ohio.org/COVID-19.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org