Pandemic precaution measures to be put in place
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The City Council approved the reopening of the Kessey Fieldhouse at its Oct. 21 meeting, with the assurance that disinfection protocols will be in place, along with other pandemic precautions.
Council members Julie Rauser and Steve Densmore were opposed, with Joe Jackson, Stanley Filipowski and Scott Frederick in favor. Dawn Cartrette was absent from the meeting.
While sports groups that use the indoor arenas for practice and games are willing to rent space again, they are leery about what extra costs they will have to pay to cover the cost of the mandated guest screening and disinfection protocols.
Likewise, council members want to monitor the cost to open and clean the arena, versus its rental revenue, to ensure that the city does not lose money by reopening the facility.
It was also suggested that contracts with sports teams contain an escape clause, which would allow the facility to close without penalty if COVID-19 conditions worsen.
City Attorney Lawrence Coogan said he reached out to five large former rental groups.
“None of them were willing to talk about our additional costs to reopen the facility,” he said. “We are going to have to hire at least four employees to clean that facility between shifts.”
Coogan said at least 15 to 20 minutes will be needed to clean between teams, both in the player areas and in the stands. As a result, groups cannot be booked back-to-back.
“This is a new thing for everybody,” he said.
Coogan said teams are more interested in allowing spectators for games than for practices.
“So, there is some interest, but I don’t know if there is enough to sustain the opening,” he said.
Coogan said he checked out other sports arenas, and said social distancing measures were in place, including non-contact temperature checks and health screening questions.
Parks and Recreation Director Susan Louvett said she has contacted other arenas to determine what protocols they were employing to sanitize indoor sports facilities. She said sign in sheets for potential contact tracing should be utilized.
“It is very important to disinfect after the teams,” Louvett said. “A lot of these are just doing a walk around, wiping down surfaces and common touch areas, and are doing a sanitizing at the end of each night.”
She said some facilities use foggers, and some use sprayers, and while some are using a bleach water solution, others are using biocide disinfectants.
“So, there are options with that,” Louvett said. “But what I did get, from most of these places, is that they are just doing 15 to 20 minutes (of cleaning) between rentals.”