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No start of the summer for public beaches and pools in Charlottesville, Albemarle
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No start of the summer for public beaches and pools in Charlottesville, Albemarle

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Area public bodies of water will probably be stiller than usual this Memorial Day.

This weekend, typically the kick off to Charlottesville and Albemarle County’s pool and beach season, will be met with quiet pools and beaches, as public facilities are closed for the summer due to COVID-19.

In the city, swimming pools and spray grounds are canceled for the season.

Interim Director of Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Todd Brown said the safety and health of the public and the staff, as well as operational needs, led to the decision to close those for the summer.

“Not even knowing when the start date would begin so that you could prepare for the shorter season is difficult,” he said.

Albemarle County only hires lifeguards for the summer, and county spokeswoman Emily Kilroy said they had a smaller application pool than normal, even before COVID-19 was a concern in the area. That, coupled with certification and training not happening due to the pandemic, led the county to close the beaches.

“It would just be too difficult to safely open swim beaches from really a lifeguard perspective, if and when gathering restrictions were eased this summer,” she said.

With the water closed, Kilroy said the county is working on public education around how to safely wade into rivers so that people don’t find themselves in a difficult situation if they try to get in.

Both the city and the county also are canceling summer camps.

About 114 temporary, seasonal positions in Albemarle will not be hired, which will save the county about $206,000. Charlottesville totals were not available by press time.

Until further notice in both localities, all outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelters and park restrooms are closed. For now, other classes and programs are canceled, but some may start again — either in person or virtually — later this summer.

“Those will continue to be evaluated as we receive more guidance on what the phases will be looking like in terms of restrictions,” Kilroy said. “Those are much easier to bring back online on a shorter timeline.”

Meadowcreek Golf Course in Charlottesville also will remain closed for the time being, though the grill is open for takeout.

“Now that we’re into phase one, we do have some thoughts of operational changes that can be made to accommodate social distancing needs as well as other requirements while playing golf, but to this point, it really wasn’t feasible to do those things,” Brown said.

He said he’s been asked why other golf courses are open while the city’s is not.

“I can’t speak to their golf course,” Brown said. “I don’t know their operation, their staffing levels, their overall resources. To speak to ours, we’re coming up with a plan of what we would need staff wise, [personal protective equipment] and other resources in order to open safely again for the public and our staff.”

According to emails obtained by The Daily Progress, City Councilors did not support opening the course.

Parks and trails remain open in both localities.

“We look forward to a time when our parks can return to full service, and we can offer a wide range of activities and programs,” Bob Crickenberger, director of Albemarle’s Parks and Recreation Department, said in an email to community members.

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