Starvaggi Pool in Weirton will not open

Millsop Center, Bowman Field to reopen June 8

WEIRTON — The Millsop Community Center and Edwin J. Bowman Field will be reopening in the coming days; however, Starvaggi Memorial Pool will remain shuttered for the summer season.

The decision was made during a special teleconference meeting Monday morning of the Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation, where officials announced the community center and adjacent ballfield will reopen June 8, with precautions being taken in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The governor has continued to relax his guidelines,” Parks Director Coty Shingle explained, noting current guidance would allow the Millsop Community Center to operate with 40 percent of its maximum occupancy, although some areas will have further restrictions.

All entrants to the community center will be required to sign a waiver, and maintain social distancing at all times. Locker rooms and shower areas will be limited to 25 patrons at a time, with steam rooms closed. Patrons also must disinfect machines before and after their use. A maximum of 25 people will be allowed in the swimming pool area and weight room.

All land and water aerobics classes, birthday parties, pool and gymnasium rentals and board-sanctioned events remain postponed.

Rentals of meeting space will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“All staff will be wearing a mask if they are interacting with the community,” Shingle said, noting the only exception will be lifeguards at the center.

For use of the Edwin J. Bowman Field, users must adhere to social distance guidelines and provide a detailed mitigation plan.

While these facilities will be reopening, officials agreed it would be difficult to adequately operate Starvaggi Pool this year because of current restrictions.

“There hasn’t been a great solution from anybody,” Shingle said, explaining a variety of approaches have been discussed by state officials and recreation directors across West Virginia. “It’s a very difficult nut to crack.”

Limiting the number of people able to use the pool at a time, as is being done in some communities, could prevent some residents from making use of the facility, Shingle noted, along with the need to have additional supervisory staff on hand to enforce those pool usage and social distancing guidelines.

“We cannot provide this opportunity in a quality way,” Shingle said, adding it also would cost $12,000 to fill the pool with water.

Board member Bill Curenton said he understands the concern, as the limit to patrons would include those in the pool as well as those on the pool deck, while board member Doug Finton asked if it even was possible to get enough lifeguards at this point.

Board member Iris Himmelrick noted, even if the pool would open, it would be for only two months.

“That’s not any definition of recreation and fun,” board member Deb Witkowski said.

Board member Mike Adams asked if it would be possible to open only the splash pad at the pool, with Shingle noting it could operate on its own, but would be available only for those under the age of 12 and still would require social distancing.

While Starvaggi Memorial Pool will remain closed, officials noted the playground and basketball and tennis courts at Starvaggi Memorial Park recently reopened to the public, and are being used.

“It’s been well received by the public,” Shingle said, noting there have only been minor problems with the use of the park facilities. “People are observing the rules, being courteous to each other.”

Shelter rentals are both Starvaggi and Marland Heights parks remain suspended.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)


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