Coronavirus is seemingly on the run with case counts in San Luis Obispo County falling steadily, and many school sports are now being allowed to take the field once again.
So when will recreation classes and youth sports in Morro Bay come back? Not anytime soon, according to a City official.
Morro Bay Recreation Division Director, Kirk Carmichael, told Estero Bay News, “We are working towards bringing back outdoor activities — youth sports, classes, etc. We will need to start slow, as I have been without support staff for close to a year now, and gain momentum hopefully by fall.”
The recreation staff, including numerous umpires, referees and rec class instructors were laid off last spring with the advent of the pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
It was part of a cost-cutting program by the City to try and lessen an anticipated big drop in tax revenues.
City Manager, Scott Collins, said, “Due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, several departments, including Kirk’s lost several staff. This impacts their ability to provide programming.”
Collins said things are improving. “We are in the process with the financial condition improving to slowly bring people back,” he said, “but it definitely takes some time to do that. I am proud of how hard the recreation team is working to make this happen, along with providing day care service to families in Morro Bay at Del Mar Elementary.”
Carmichael hopes to get some sports programs restarted soon. “I’m trying to put something together now for girls softball and supporting Little League with field use,” Carmichael said. “We are moving forward with our Junior Lifeguard program this summer as well.”
Collins pointed out that they are offering some classes for seniors in outdoor settings. They hold Tai Chi classes from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tidelands Park (masks required); walking excursions at 11 a.m. Wednesdays meeting at the Maritime Museum; a balance class at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the parking lot at the Community Center (masks required); and they play bocce ball at 1 p.m. Thursdays at Tidelands Park.
Also, the City’s pickle ball courts at Del Mar Park are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a local pickle ball group plays in the afternoons.
The City closed all of its buildings to the public last April with a few exceptions, for example the Food Bank still gives away foodstuffs every third Wednesday of the month at the Vet’s Hall starting at 9:30 a.m. and the Monday Night Community Dinners at the Vets Hall continue as take-out affairs.
But the Community Center, which houses the Senior Center will have to wait until the County’s COVID numbers get a lot better.
“As for City buildings,” Carmichael said, “the latest consensus was the City will look at reopening facilities once the County reaches the Yellow Tier [in the Governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”]. As for the seniors, it will be a challenge to gather volunteer staff to operate the center, as many do not feel ready or comfortable coming back just yet.”
Collins added, “The Community Center cannot open to the general public at this time [its not a City decision], per the State and County guidelines. When we hit the ‘Yellow Tier’ we can open the Center. We hope to move toward the yellow tier soon, and that would likely coincide with greater interest for folks to participate and volunteer for programming.”
The State’s Yellow Tier in the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” classifies the COVID pandemic as “Minimal” spread and is two tiers better than the “Red Tier,” where SLO County is currently classified.
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