We hope this finds you safe and well during these challenging times. As we all navigate through the ever-changing environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, our department is proud to be able to continue providing much needed recreation and leisure services. At the onset of the pandemic, we took a phased approach in our cancellation of events and programs as dates approached, in the hope that some level of our services could continue. As time passed and the brevity of the situation became clear, it was ultimately necessary for the Parks & Recreation Department to cancel all programs and close facilities through May, for the protection of our customers and employees. As the community began adjusting to the “new normal,” we saw a tremendous increase in the casual use of our parks and sidewalks, as families sought outdoor activities. It was great to see our parks being utilized as the valued community assets for which they were intended. Our initial COVID-19 response included an outreach service for the community’s older adults, expanding upon the Fire Division’s CARES Program. A 30-person call team consisting of community volunteers, City Council members and employees conducted routine calls to over 1,600 households with older adults. Callers ensured that these residents had access to food, household items and prescriptions, since many residents were hesitant to leave their home. A collaboration of agencies including Neighborhood Bridges, the UA Commission on Aging and UA Community Foundation were instrumental in serving our senior population. As time progressed, and as residents developed support systems for their daily needs, such as
grocery deliveries, we found that many of our phone calls addressed isolation and boredom. A volunteer program through the Commission on Aging is in the works to continue these much-needed social conversations. As the Ohio Department of Health began releasing its Responsible RestartOhio requirements, our department developed detailed plans to reopen facilities and programs. Our priorities continued to be the health and welfare of our residents and employees, maintaining a high level of services, providing traditional services during uncertain times, and enhancing the quality of life in Upper Arlington. Our staff were diligent in their efforts to provide services, undertaking all the necessary changes and modifications to adhere to health and safety requirements. We were leaders in the region and State by providing summer camp, enabling parents to return to work, and by opening swimming pools and tennis courts as a welcome break from stay-at-home orders. Recreation programs, organized sports, facility rentals and use of playgrounds progressed through a series of regulations. Several safety precautions were implemented which in some cases drastically changed the structure of our operations. However, at this time we are still unable to provide a few highly sought after services due to continued state- mandated closures – these include the Senior Center and community events. Senior programs have transitioned to virtual online or outdoor, socially distanced formats for the safety of our members. Movies & Music in the Parks became drive-in style and the Cultural Arts Division is finalizing plans to celebrate art this Labor Day weekend in place of our traditional event.