The Ottawa Recreation Commission programs and facilities will use a phased-in approach to reopen, ORC officials said.


Brandon Stortz, ORC program manager, said the recommendations to the board Wednesday were made by the ORC staff in concert with the governor’s phased reopening plan as well as input from the city of Ottawa, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Franklin County Health Department, Franklin County Emergency Management, Kansas Recreation and Park Association and multiple agencies and organizations.


The ORC board decided against playing league baseball and softball leagues this summer.


Stortz said the decision was made because of safety and rules concerns along with questions regarding participation.


"Many communities had suspended registration and did not believe they would have enough players to field teams," he said. "The ORC staff presented the board with an alternative for the season. The ORC will begin planning baseball and softball camps with experienced coaches and clinicians in order to provide children the opportunity to continue learning baseball and softball skills."


The tentative plan is to offer camps to children ages 7-12.


Stortz said families currently registered for baseball and softball will have the first opportunity to participate and will be contacted directly by email. Those registered for Tiny Tot T-Ball and 6U baseball/softball will be given refunds. Allow two to four weeks for refund processing.


The ORC also is looking into soccer and volleyball camps later this summer.


The use of ORC buildings and fields for activities outside of ORC programming can happen if Kansas’ phased guidelines are followed, Stortz said.


"Organized practices cannot be held in phase one and restrictions are put in place for phases two and three," Stortz said. "The ORC will be in touch with each baseball and softball organization to go over the specifics of the phased guidelines that must be followed in order to promote a safe environment at Orlis Cox Sports Complex."


The Forest Park swimming pool will remain closed for the 2020 season.


"This decision was made with an abundance of caution for public health as well as staffing and logistical challenges," Stortz said. "Additionally, lifeguard staff cannot safely train for lifesaving operations while social distancing is in effect."


The ORC staff considered multiple options in starting summer activities in a safe manner.


Like many Kansas communities, the ORC has been looking at summer programs and activities and trying to make sure they are safe and healthy for the community, Stortz said.


"We have looked into every possible scenario at the pool," he said. "Our goal from the outset of COVID-19 was to open as many amenities and programs as possible during this pandemic. We face an unprecedented time in our operation and have been working with many national, state, and local entities in order to provide the best possible solutions for our community."


The ORC will refund all swimming lesson registrations, as well as pool party reservations.


The ORC staff presented a fluid plan for the ORC’s summer camps. Stortz said the camp will tentatively run from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


"Camp will look differently than it has in the past as camp will be held with activities on campus at the Goppert building and no field trips will be scheduled," Stortz said. "Dates for the camp have not been set and are fluid due to COVID-19."


The ORC fitness programs will return when deemed safe under the governor’s plan.


"The ORC is working to provide socially-distanced fitness classes as we move into each phase of the governor’s plan," Stortz said. "Plans include socially distancing and in-person classes as well as virtual classes that participants can do at home with a trained instructor."


The ORC will not be offering senior programming until phase three, which will begin in mid-June at the earliest. This includes PATH, TOPS, pickleball and chair yoga.


The ORC will continue offering virtual programming through its Facebook platform, Stortz said. These offerings include a weekly workout, sports drills as well as games you can play at home, Trivia Thursday, coloring pages and Barbecue with Brandon series.


The ORC staff is continuing its plan for reopening the Goppert building, Stortz said.


"There will be many changes in ORC operations with a focus on an abundance of safety for patrons and staff," he said. "The ORC will release its reopening plan once the plan is finalized."