Summer won’t be quite the same in Carmel this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic that brought regular life to a halt in March didn’t spare Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, but glimpses of normalcy are set to return soon.
The Waterpark expects to open — late — for the season June 14, but the hundreds of lounge chairs surrounding the water features will be gone. The Monon Community Center is set to reopen May 24, but visits are open to members only and must be scheduled in advance. Summer camps are set to launch June 1, but capacity is slashed and all field trips have been canceled.
CCPR released its reopening plan last week. It aligns with the state’s reopening schedule presented May 1 by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Doctors, county health officials and other experts reviewed CCPR’s plan and presented feedback.
“Things are going to look different for the foreseeable future with reduced capacity,” CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said. “There are things you’re not going to be able to do this summer, and as much as we’d like to provide those opportunities, all the guidance is saying we need to wait.”
See details of CCPR’s reopening plan at carmelclayparks.com.
Monon Community Center
The Monon Community Center is scheduled to reopen at a significantly reduced capacity May 24, the same day the state is expected to enter Stage 3 of its reopening plan.
Initially, the facility will only be open to members, and they must make a reservation in advance. Fitness equipment has been spread throughout the building, including on the walking track, which will not be open for walking or running during the first phase of reopening.
A reduced schedule of group fitness classes will be offered in the gymnasium rather than the traditional classroom space to promote physical distancing.
Employees will be part of crews that will remain separate from each other at all times.
“If we lose a crew (because of a COVID-19 infection), we haven’t impacted the entire staff that helps us run the community center,” Klitzing said.
The center’s reservation system will also allow MCC staff to know who is in the building at all times, which will make contact tracing easier if someone associated with the facility contracts COVID-19.
Playgrounds and splash pads
Carmel parks have remained open throughout the pandemic, but playgrounds and restrooms have not. Both are expected to reopen May 24, along with the regularly-scheduled opening of splash pads.
The skate park and dog park are also expected to open May 24.
Midtown Plaza and the portion of the Monon Trail between Main Street and Gradle Drive remain closed and do not have a reopening date planned.
CCPR is awaiting official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Klitzing said he is fairly confident summer camps will begin June 1, their normal launch date.
With school facilities ordered closed through at least June 30, CCPR has lost the use of Carmel’s three public middle schools as camp space.
So instead of serving 720 campers per day, CCPR will have space for 300.
Klitzing said CCPR developed fixed criteria to determine which campers will get the spots. Priority is given to Carmel residents, those who had signed up for multiple weeks of camp and children of medical workers and first responders.
“Our preference would be to serve everyone, but when you’re dealing with a significant reduction in capacity, we’ve tried to create as equitable a system as can be applied as possible,” Klitzing said.
CCPR sent out a survey to parents of children registered for camps to gauge interest in light of the pandemic.
“For every parent who is uncomfortable with (sending a child to camp), there are probably one or two parents — if not more — interested in getting their kids out in a safe manner. I still expect our demand is going to exceed our capacity,” Klitzing said, adding that those wanting to cancel their camp reservation will get a full refund.
Instead of offering multiple themed camps, this year all camps will focus on open air activities and being outdoors. All field trips — including to CCPR’s waterpark — have been canceled.
Camps will be limited to 30 children in each group, and they will not intermingle with each other. Staff members will remain with the same groups of children.
“We’re really focused on minimizing contact between people,” Klitzing said. “That way if someone does come down with COVID-19, it’s confined within a small group.”
The Waterpark is scheduled to reopen June 14, when Indiana is set to enter Stage 4 of its reopening plan. State guidelines allow waterparks to open at 50 percent capacity, but Klitzing said the Carmel facility will operate at levels much lower than that.
“When you’re got a facility like The Waterpark, you think of it as being busy,” Klitzing said. “We’re purposely trying to make it less busy, which is counter to what we instinctively want to do, but it’s what we need to do given the current circumstances.”
Legally, The Waterpark’s capacity is approximately 2,100 people, but several years ago CCPR set its own limit of 1,200 people to reduce crowding and improve the customer experience. When The Waterpark reopens, it will limit capacity to 650 guests at a time.
“We’re spreading people out so there’s less people in The Waterpark at any given time,” Klitzing said. “That number is relevant for us, because that’s approximately the number of people we need to break even for the day.”
Deck chairs will be removed, because CCPR does not have the capacity to clean each chair between guests. Instead, guests may bring their own chairs into the park.
The lazy river will not be open when The Waterpark reopens for the same reason. CCPR does not have the capability to clean each tube between users.
Most of the restrictions — such as capacity and lazy river closure — are expected to be lifted when Indiana reaches Stage 5 of its reopening plan, currently set for July 4. Klitzing said The Waterpark capacity may remain at 650 at that time to promote physical distancing.