Pullman recreation staff find ways to keep residents active, safe

Playgrounds now open with guidelines; aquatic, fitness centers to open next



Although many recreational activities had to be canceled this summer, the new Pullman Aquatic and Recreation Center will open in a few weeks.

CHERYL AARNIO, Evergreen reporter

Despite the cancellation of recreational activities due to COVID-19, certain facilities and summer camps will open to the public soon. 

Pullman Parks, Facilities and Recreation has not been able to host normal summertime activities, Parks Superintendent Alan Davis said. Its employees even had to make it difficult for people to engage in recreational activities, including keeping bases off of the baseball field and closing the playgrounds with caution tape.

Davis said they reopened the playgrounds on June 12.

There are signs telling people to socially distance, wash hands, wear a mask and avoid eating in the playgrounds.

People have been taking advantage of the parks, which never closed, throughout the pandemic, Davis said.

“It seems like the one group that is really loving the virus is the dogs,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many people walking their dogs — ever.”

Restrooms will stay closed, Davis said. Because many employees are furloughed with reduced hours, there is not enough staff to clean the bathrooms properly.

Concerts in the Park and other annual events may not happen this summer, recreation manager Kurt Dahmen said.

Week-long summer day camps for children ages 3-6 and 6-11, which occurs from 8 a.m. to noon, will commence June 22. In the past, 30 children were permitted in one camp, but there will be a lower limit this year, Dahmen said.

It seems like the one group that is really loving the virus is the dogs.

— Alan Davis, director of parks and facilities

There will be one teacher to a maximum of nine children. Each group will have their own classroom, he said. Instructors will wear masks. It will be recommended that older children wear masks as well. Social distancing measures will be put in place.

The summer programs include art, woodworking and bike camps. Registration is online. Dahmen said there will probably be swimming lessons later in the summer.

The Pullman Aquatic and Fitness Center will open in a few weeks, he said, but Reaney Pool will stay closed this summer because of, among other reasons, the expense of opening it for a limited time. 

More than 1,600 members of the aquatic center have been unable to use it since March, so it is their priority, Dahmen said. Additionally, sanitation practices will be easier in the facility. 

Davis said the aquatic center staff is looking into automated faucets for the center.

Lap swimming will be reservation only, Dahmen said. After a couple hours, the staff will probably close the pool for less than an hour to sanitize it. Open swim time will likely be limited. The fitness room may have a reservation system, too. 

“I think a lot of this is going to be some trial and error in what works and what modifications we have to make,” Dahmen said.