Standing on the second floor of the community center on a summer afternoon one can visually take in Batesville’s sprawling outdoor aquatics park. The dual corkscrew slides, yellow and blue umbrellas, and the splash pad dolphin eager to play. The scene was inviting, but something was missing: the people.

Batesville Parks Director Jeff Owens wants people to know the center is open, including the indoor therapy pool and the indoor lap pool where the Batesville Elite Swimming Torpedoes are swimming again.

“We are open and we have our protocols in place to keep it clean and safe,” Owens said.

The outdoor aquatics park was allowed to open briefly, but closed a few weeks later due to COVID-19 concerns. Owens said during the few weeks when the outdoor aquatic park was open, the daily attendance was only about 30 percent of the 500-600 people who would use that area daily during normal operations.

Logistically speaking, keeping a public outdoor pool open safely during normal circumstances requires constant vigilance. There are life guards of course, but also the behind the scenes work of keeping the pool chemically balanced and safe from germs, and areas around the pool picked-up and cleaned. Doing this while meeting the health guidelines and mandates being handed out during this unusual year has been an even bigger challenge.

Patron usage of the community center is slowly returning to normal levels. Besides water aerobics at the indoor pool, there are Zumba exercise classes, morning yoga, line dancing classes, as well as the center’s cardio and weight equipment, and walking areas. Patrons of the center will have their temperatures checked upon entering and must wear masks while entering.

“They’re coming here to improve or maintain their health, and we want to help maintain that goal,” Owens said.

Now that the summer swimming season is over, the outdoor pool is being drawn down slightly for maintenance. The yellow and blue umbrellas have been put away for winter. Now only the whisper of autumn breezes echo through the dual corkscrew slides, and the splash pad dolphin, though dry, remains ever cheerful and ready for next summer.

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