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Hartselle public venues remain closed; aquatic center delays opening

By Matthew Speakman  

For the Enquirer 

The Hartselle Aquatic Center won’t open on its usual date of Memorial Day weekend, and the city’s spring youth sports programs have been canceled, but officials hope to offer a fall sports season as a replacement. 

Other public venues in Hartselle also remain closed because of coronavirus restrictions. 

Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison said a new opening date for the aquatic center could be determined after further revisions in the state health order are made this week. 

An amended order issued Friday by State Health Officer Scott Harris said pools could reopen Monday, provided they kept patrons from different households 6 feet apart and limited occupancy to 50 percent of the normal capacity as determined by the fire marshal. 

Parks and Recreation Director Tom Chappell said the biggest roadblock facing the aquatic center is there hasn’t been a way to train lifeguards. 

“If we don’t have lifeguards, we can’t open,” he said. “We usually hire lifeguards around this time and train them around this timeWe have to get them hired and train them, and we don’t think we’d be able to do all of that by Memorial Day.” 

When it comes to other city facilities, Garrison said Hartselle City Hall is open, but residents are not allowed to enter employee areas and are being helped from the lobby. The William Bradford Huie Public Library remains closed to visitors but is offering curbside pickup by placing checkouts on a table outside for residents. 

Sparkman Civic Center is also closed, but Sparkman Park’s walking trails and fishing pond are open. 

“Currently, we’re not renting out pavilions at the parks,” Chappell said. “People are using the park for picnics, and we’re OK with that as long as they’re not in large groups. All of our programs are suspended, and restrooms are closed right now.” 

Along with many public venues being closed, spring youth sports, including baseball and softball, were canceled in Hartselle. 

“We’re going to look at a fall league with some of the spring sports,” Garrison said. “People are sad that those sports can’t have leagues this season.” 

He said if things get better, the city will allow youth sports coaches to host pickup-type games on city fields, but no official leagues will be organized. 

“We’re not doing league-sanctioned events,” he said. “We couldn’t come up with a way with the recommendations and what we were told.” 

Chappell said many youth players and their parents have said they would not participate this summer even if the city had not canceled sports. The city decided to cancel sports to make sure potential participants had a clear answer. 

“We realized that without a percentage of the players,” he said, we were going to have to reshuffle the deck anyway.”