The Seymour Community Center will not reopen for senior programming this year due to concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
After discussing the issue during a meeting Monday, the parks and recreation board voted to keep the downtown center closed as a gathering place for local senior citizens at least through the end of December.
The public will be able to rent the facility, however, for small, private gatherings such as baby or wedding showers and birthday parties.
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Located at 107 S. Chestnut St., the center originally closed in March for carpet replacement but has remained shuttered to reduce the spread of the virus.
Stacy Findley, director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, said she doesn’t feel comfortable opening the facility back up for seniors because they remain the most vulnerable population to COVID-19.
The parks and recreation department oversees the community center and senior programming there.
“The health department reached out to me and they would like us to be on the same page with Brownstown’s community center as far as senior programming goes,” Findley said. “And they are looking at January to reopen.”
Findley believes there will be a spike in COVID-19 illness in the community as children begin to go back to school next month.
The department also is without a bus driver to transport seniors after the retirement of longtime driver Kenny McKain.
Without a place for seniors to go, board member Matt Levine said the parks department needs to find a way to still provide services to them.
“I think we should challenge ourselves to try to develop some sort of senior citizen programming that we can take to them because they’ve got to be just as frustrated as we all are to not be able to get out and do things,” he said.
Parks board President Gary Colglazier said he didn’t have a problem with keeping the center completely closed, including for rentals, until January.
“With what’s going on around us in the country, I’m just being cautious,” he said. “I don’t want us to get into a pickle. If somebody gets sick, who are they going to come back on? Are they going to come back on us?”
Findley said people renting the facility will have to sign a COVID-19 waiver along with the regular rental agreement.
New board member Monica Boyer said she believed the department should be as cautious as possible and not rent out the facility.
“If you allow that, then it looks like the city is encouraging gatherings, and gatherings aren’t necessarily a great thing right now,” she said.
When it comes to renting out the facility, Levine said he thought it would be fine to go ahead and start making it available again to the public.
“Personally, I would have no issue hosting an event there myself,” he said.
The department needs to charge an extra fee, though, for having to sanitize the facility before and after it’s used, he added.
“Honestly, I think people know what they’re getting themselves into,” Levine said. “They will limit or invite or not invite those folks that they do or don’t want to be part of that.”
Board member Kathy Hohenstreiter said people can make their own decision to attend a private gathering.
“If you’re comfortable and want to do it, that’s your choice,” she said. “If it’s rented and you’re invited and you’re not comfortable going, then you shouldn’t.”
Colglazier said he would go along with rentals if the number of people allowed inside was limited to 50. The facility’s seating capacity is 75.
“I know we’re losing money,” he said. “I’m just being on the side of caution.”
The board also decided to limit rentals to Saturday events only.
The parks department receives around 10 calls a week inquiring about renting the community center, said Tonya Disque, administrative assistant.
“And it’s rented out pretty much steadily for most of the year,” she said.
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To rent the Seymour Community Center, call the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department at 522-6420.