SIDNEY —The Sidney Recreation Board named its new officers during Monday’s virtual meeting.

Amy Zorn will replace Angie Ross as the new chair and Tim Bickel will replace Zorn as the new secretary.

Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier informed Zorn and Bickel, the only two board members in attendance, about updates within the department. There was no new business before the board to be voted upon.

Duane told board members the decision to close the Sidney Water Park was made due to COVID-19 and but also because of a lack of lifeguards. At the time of the state of Ohio closed down, the city had only four certified lifeguard applicants. After inquiring about how other city pools were planning to proceed, he said they learned only about 50% of municipal pools statewide are opening this summer. He noted the regulations handed down by the state for pools that are opening this summer are a “logistics nightmare.”

“This is counterintuitive as to what any recreation professional wants to do (to close the pool) because this is what we do, this is our job. But we also have to make sure it is feasible, doable, and cost effective for the city of Sidney to keep citizens safe. So that’s why we have made the decision to close the pool. Hopefully, next year some of these (restrictions) will be taken out and COVID-19 will be a thing of the past, and we will be opening up like normal,” Gaier said.

The city hired those four lifeguard applicants to do other work within the parks department with the hope of retaining them as guards for the 2021 summer season. The city is also considering contracting an outside company to operate the city pool next year, Gaier said.

Baseball and softball games at Sidney baseball fields are greatly reduced this season due to the coronavirus. Teams must be in accordance with Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders, in order to play on city fields, Gaier said. Sidney amateur baseball and girls softball leagues are canceled this year. Junior Jacket fifth/sixth-grade and seventh/eighth-grade traveling teams and some adult teams may play at Custenboarder and Flanagan Fields. No night games will be permitted. Due to the city’s budget adjustments amid the coronavirus pandemic, ball field lights will not be turned on as a cost cutting measure. Gaier also said budget cuts is causing seasonal park staff to be reduced, so they are asking ball teams to help with their trash clean up.

All 2020 capital projects, except for two, have been moved out to 2021 or 2022.

The play structure at Custenboarder Field six and seven, a new dog park, foot bridge at Tawawa Park and parking lot resurfacing in various spots within the parks have been pushed out to 2021. Work on Canal Feeder Trail has been pushed out to 2022. The rehabilitation of the historic bridge in Tawawa Park is continuing on as planned, he said.

When asked, he confirmed all play structures in all city parks are still closed due to the coronavirus.

Members set the next meeting to be tentatively held in July.

Members Mary Jannides and Angie Ross were absent Monday.

By Sheryl Roadcap

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Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.