City reevaluating summer activities after Phase 1 extension

    St. James is reevaluating plans to hold summer activities and sports leagues after Governor Mike Parson announced last week that Phase 1 of Missouri’s recovery plan has been extended through June 15. Signups for summer sports were being accepted through mid-June, but plans to reopen the public areas of the city remain uncertain.

    “Yesterday, the governor extended the Phase 1 of the requirements until June 15. Now, this is causing us to need to reevaluate some of our summer programs,” Mayor Rick Krawiecki said in a Facebook address on Saturday, May 29. “Regardless of how you all feel about the spread of the virus, it is our objective here at the city to keep our citizens, our children, everyone, safe. We will still continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the state health department.”
    The park board will meet this week to address how summer activities, such as reopening the pool, baseball fields, recreation center, and other city-owned properties. “They will be making a presentation to the council on June 8. At that time, the council members will decide if we are going to move forward with the sports programs, the pool opening, and so forth,” Krawiecki said.
    Currently, the St. James City Park is open to the public, except the playground equipment, as well the Nelson Hart Park, except the playgrounds, baseball fields, and recreation center.
    “Summer athletic programs, you know, it is pretty hard to have baseball and softball with any type of rules you would have to have. It would be a totally different game here,” Krawiecki explained. “Some of the restrictions you could possibly be out there is you could only have three people in the dugouts. All players and coaches would be spread out six feet behind the dugouts and fences. A limit of eight people in the lower bleachers so the rest of the spectators, you would have to bring your own chairs and distance yourself six feet apart. No coaches would be at first or third base. Umpires would call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher, and the catcher would have to be two foot further behind the batter’s box,” he said.
    Disinfecting equipment would also have to be available to ensure public safety. Krawiecki said there would have to be disinfectant stations for players after handling the balls and players would have to wear rubber gloves on their throwing hands. “As you can tell, it is going to be very difficult to have any program with the restrictions we have facing us now,” he said.
    The pool could open in some way, with a limit on occupancy being a concern. “Maximum occupancy is 80 people or less. There would be two, three-hour sessions. The first would run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the pool would then be closed for an hour to clean and disinfect, and then from 3 to 6 p.m. would be the second session,” he explained.
    “There would be no season passes this year. It will be individual pay on a daily basis, so basically you would have to exit the pool, continue to use social distancing, and the next group would be allowed after an hour when everything is clean,” Krawiecki said. “There again, you can see how difficult it is going to be to police and make sure that everyone is practicing the social distancing. That’s our main concern, to keep everyone safe and healthy. I would rather make a few people upset right now over our summer sports program and the pool than to have an outbreak of COVID-19 in St. James from being too relaxed on what we are trying to do here.”
    The city council will review the parks board recommendation during its June 8 meeting and decide what the city will do regarding its summer activities. Citizens are encouraged to follow the city of St. James Facebook page for up-to-date information about the city’s COVID-19 responses, guidelines, and other information while the city attempts to slowly reopen and return to regular business in a safe way.

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