Making a splash: Some Northeast Ohio cities release plans for summer swimming, water play

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NORTHEAST OHIO (WJW) — There is building frustration for some in Medina because the city’s two splash pads will remain closed this summer.

This week Jeanne Pritchard voiced her concern publicly at a city council meeting as a lifelong resident and former district teacher of physical and health education.

“To eliminate the opening causes low income and minority families’ hardships as to affordable recreational activities,” she said. “Knowing the cities commitment to diversity and your acknowledgment of racism as a public health crisis, I would think that you want to ensure that all recreation programs are designed with equity in mind.”

Medina City Parks Director Jansen Wehrley said he has small children and is “extremely disappointed” that the splash pad will not open this year.

However, the issue he said is the pandemic and trying to keep the public space clean. The city’s outdoor pool will reopen May 1.

“Our splash pads in the city of Medina, we have no control over who comes,” said Wehrley. “We have no supervision, and no regular cleaning or sanitizing schedule…on a good day 80 degrees it’s not uncommon to have 100 to 150 people there, as we regularly get school buses from Wadsworth, Brunswick and surrounding communities showing up to reserve our pavilion to take advantage of our community parks.”

Wehrley said the city used Cares Act funding for its parks to install touch less toilets, sinks, hand dryers and activators for the splash pads to minimize high touch point surfaces.

According to the Ohio Department of Health those who operate pools and splash pads are not required to submit plans for reopening because of COVID-19.

Several cities across Northeast Ohio are opening their summer pools as well. A Beachwood city spokesperson said they will open the Beachwood Family Aquatic Center for residents this May.

In Cleveland, 20 of the city’s pools will open in June with some COVID health and safety restrictions including limits of how many people can enter.

“Rather than be irresponsible and just open them we’re being a little bit cautious, more cautious than some communities because we just want to do the right thing,” said Wehrley.

He said the parks staff has three full time employees, 14 parks and a total of 800 acres to maintain and manages Forestry and Cemetery Departments.

Pritchard suggested during her address to city council, reservations should be required along with limiting splash pad hours and its use become restricted to city residents only.

“We pay taxes and recreation is for all people and I just feel we are blocking out a huge group,” Pritchard said.

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