DENVER (KDVR) — Denver’s 30 recreation facilities remain closed yet YMCA’s six locations around the metro area are currently open with safety restrictions. FOX31 found out why and what’s changing over the next few months.
Since the Y of Metro Denver reopened on June 15, there have been 83,652 visits at its six Y locations.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have zero cases so far in our childcare facility,” Susan M. Duncan Family YMCA Senior Program Director Abby Kenner said.
Through summer camps, before and after school programs, pool and fitness classes, officials report the Y has not had any outbreaks at any of its locations.
“It really has been amazing to see we are practicing the best that we can and it is showing it can be done,” Kenner said.
Denver’s recreation centers face state safety restrictions just like the Y and they are allowed to reopen under the following requirements of the state guidance.
Before the pandemic hit, Denver recreation centers saw around 2.5 million visitors a year. All 30 of the city’s facilities shut down March 16.
While Denver Parks and Recreation is continually working on scenarios to safely reopen facilities, they face several challenges, particularly staffing for their 30 centers.
“I’m down a little over 1,200 on-call employees and those are the folks that help our facilities run,” Deputy Executive Director of Parks and Recreation John Martinez said, adding “I was left with 137 full-time employees and on June 1, I had to furlough 74 of them for two months.”
Martinez says a majority of his remaining full-time employees have been re-deployed in other city roles to help reopen over the past few months.
“Re-deployments helping our colleagues on the park side, picking up trash, cutting grass, driving folks experiencing homelessness to shelters, delivering meals to shelters,” Martinez said.
Between new assignments and a lack of indoor facilities, the Parks and Recreation staff is still making time to serve those who depend on city locations and programs. The city’s utilizing outdoor space at these facilities and city parks for youth sports, camps and adult activities.
Additionally, several building locations serve as free learning posts for local students.
Through Oct. 16, children can sign up and go to Athmar, Montbello and Rude recreation centers for a safe and supportive place to get access to Wi-Fi and help with their online school work while parents are at work.
To fill their programming void, the city also has virtual programs for youth and adults to follow at home.
“We’ve served over 3,500 people since July with in-person programing and over 91,000 people virtually since the pandemic started,” Martinez said, “My staff has done a tremendous job with little resources and I’m down to a skeleton crew, but they are still true public servants.”
After polls close at the city’s recreation centers in November, officials are planning to partially reopen several facilities for access to cardio equipment with restrictions and reservations.
The plan is to gradually reopen in phases with the goal of all 30 facilities open in some capacity by mid-April of 2021. A full reopening depends on COVID-19 trends and restriction changes.
The latest information on closures and re-openings will be posted on their site as it becomes available.
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