City Reopens Parks Facilities, Acquatic Center To Open June 13
MITCHELL BRADLEY KELLER
With the dog days of summer approaching, the City of Horicon Common Council offered some relief from pandemic restrictions at the Tuesday, May 26 regular meeting and agreed to open and allow public use of Horicon parks’ playground equipment, sporting fields and restrooms, with posted guidelines.
In the same meeting, the council agreed to open the city Aquatic Center on June 13. No swimming lessons and a 75-person capacity was set in place per the guidelines of the YMCA, which the city outsources to run the center each summer.
In discussion, Horicon Mayor Jim Grigg said discussions with the city’s insurance provider and attorney suggested allowing these spaces open at the public’s own risk.
He added that the city would not be disinfecting playground equipment or sporting fields, but the city would regularly clean the park bathrooms.
“We will put hand sanitizer in there,” added Grigg, noting that the restrooms will also have soap and running water but no paper toweling.
City Clerk/Treasurer Kristen Jacobson explained how the city was protected by any potential culpability.
“The City of Horicon is protected by recreational immunity,” she explained, adding that posted information on the dangers of using park equipment or the pool would be advisable.
The decision to reopen playground equipment in Horicon comes almost exactly two months from the governor’s “Safer at Home” order, which effectively banned the use of such equipment until the state’s Supreme Court ruled the order unconstitutional on May 13.
YMCA of Dodge County Aquatics Director Rebekah Gaumitz, who oversees the City of Horicon Aquatic Center contract, was on hand via telephone to discuss the opening of the pool.
“We feel we can safely accommodate 75 patrons at one time,” said Gaumitz, adding that she worked with the city’s Department of Public Works and Utilities Supervisor, Tim Kingman, to obtain that figured based on the center’s square footage.
Gaumitz also said, to maximize access, the pool would take reservations for 90-minute sessions. After 90 minutes, the pool would be cleared for cleaning and then a new group of patrons would be invited in.
In the event the pool is not at the 75-person capacity after the 90-minute session, and if those on the reservation list would not eclipse that figure for the following session, patrons from the previous time block would be allowed to re-enter.
In discussion, Alderperson Forrest Frami was concerned about the cost of the season pass, as the center would be opening almost two weeks after its usual start date of June 1.
Alderperson Susan Hady expressed concern that not enough time had been given to the council to fully discuss the implications of opening.
Several members of the council also voiced concern that residents from other municipalities, whose pools have been closed for the summer, would take reservation spots away from Horicon residents.
“Any time you start putting restrictions, you lose [legal] protections,” said Jacobsen in response.
Alderperson Richard Marschke worried the cost to operate would be considerably high, all circumstances considered.
“I can just see this being a bigger expense to the city than ever before,” he said.
Frami added that the city has typically operated the pool at a lost to the city.
“It’s one of the few things the city can do for our residents,” added Mayor Grigg.
Ultimately, the council voted to open the Horicon Acquatic Center on June 13 without swimming lessons, with capacity not to exceed 75 people and in 90-minute reservation-based intervals.
Only Alderperson Marschke voted in the negative.
More information, as it becomes available, on the pool’s reservation system and safety guidelines for city parks will be published in future Pionier editions and on the Dodge County Pionier Facebook page.