(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department announced that the Frank Southern Ice Arena, which closed its doors shortly after the season began on Nov. 19, 2020, due to safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19, will not re-open this winter.
Numerous factors contributed to the difficult decision, including the limits on gathering sizes to 25 people or fewer. This small group size, and the arena’s inability to equally serve groups of 25 people or more prohibited the operation of many programs at the ice arena.
Kathy Hewett, Monroe County Health Department Public Information Officer wrote in a statement, “Although the County Metrics Weekly 2 map, https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/ , shows Monroe County in the “Yellow” range this week, it remains in “Orange” on the Advisory Level map, which is the map counties must follow for COVID restriction levels. Scores are calculated and updated weekly based on COVID transmission. Per the Governor’s Executive Order 20-50, counties’ metric scores must fall into the lower level for two consecutive weeks before their restrictions are reduced.”
“Our Department continues to make the health and safety of the Bloomington community our first consideration as we manage the effects of the pandemic in every facet of our organization,” said Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department Director Paula McDevitt. “While we share the disappointment of this year’s abbreviated ice season, we continue to follow public health recommendations and have made the determination that, in the grand scheme of our responsibilities, keeping the ice arena closed until this fall is the right decision for the community.”
The ice arena, which is open seasonally, has tentative plans to re-open in October 2021.
The open status of each Parks and Recreation Department facility is evaluated based on its unique features and offerings, as the Department strives to continue to safely serve the public during the pandemic.
The Banneker Community Center re-opened to user groups in mid November under carefully controlled conditions. According to facility manager Erik Pearson, an online space reservation system allows staff time between visitors to thoroughly clean and sanitize separate meeting areas. Separate rooms mean groups of people can be kept apart, and everyone who enters the building has a temperature check and fills out a COVID screening form prior to admission. Pearson added that all Banneker Community Center guests have been compliant with face covering and physical distancing requirements. Group sizes are limited to 25 people or fewer.
The Twin Lakes Recreation Center, another Parks and Recreation Department facility, re-opened to active members only through mid-January, then to both members and day users under specific COVID safety guidelines. The turf field at the TLRC remains closed; the five hardwood courts are open for visitors, but not for competitions or games. Facility users are required to wear masks when not exercising, and must maintain physical distancing of six feet or more. Staff routinely cleans and disinfects all equipment in the third floor weight room, and the machines in the cardio studio; use of machines is limited to every other machine, so no one is immediately next to another facility user while on an elliptical, treadmill, or other machine. All group exercise classes are being held virtually, including SilverSneakers classes.
City parks and trails have remained open throughout the pandemic, with the city encouraging visitors to follow guidelines intended to slow the spread of COVID-19: maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from other people, staying home if showing symptoms of an illness, and practicing good personal hygiene.
For more information about the Frank Southern Ice Arena, contact Dee Tuttle, ice arena general manager, at 812-349-3740 or email@example.com.