Denver sets reopening dates for rec centers (May) and outdoor pools (June)

Who’s ready to ball?

Aniiya (13) makes a drive down a court inside the Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center, June 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Aniiya (13) makes a drive down a court inside the Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center, June 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

City recreation centers will reopen starting May 3, while public pools should be open by June.

That’s according to a presentation Denver Parks and Rec gave a city council committee on Thursday. Presenters said the city hopes to reopen all rec centers by the end of the year after they closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Plans call for reopening 10 fitness centers, 9 indoor pools and 8 outdoor pools at rec centers between May and August. They will be made available through an online reservation system to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols, though deputy executive director for recreation John Martinez said he wants to reserve at least 25 percent capacity for walks-ins or those who make reservations over the phone.

Martinez said the city looked at the equity index map to help determine which centers to reopen first. The map identifies areas of need around and helps the parks department pinpoint where to provide more recreational programing.

The city also considered how some recreational centers are being used at the moment. Three — Barnum, Montbello and Martin Luther King Jr. — are being used as city-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination sites. Barnum and Montbello are both scheduled to reopen their recreational services in June. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t part of the initial reopening phases.

Fitness centers with weight and cardio spaces at Carla Madison, Eisenhower and Green Valley Ranch will reopen May 3. Youth activities at College View, Cook Park, Hiawatha Davis Jr., Johnson and La Alma will resume the same day. At least 14 centers will also begin offering free afternoon meals for kids aged 5 to 18.

Eight outdoor pools are scheduled to reopen on June 7 at the following rec centers:

  • Berkeley
  • Barnum
  • Cook Park
  • Globeville
  • Green Valley Ranch
  • Harvard Gulch
  • Harvey Park
  • Mestizo/Curtis Park

These pools will be available though August 14, the same day that three more fitness centers will reopen at Athmar, Montclair and Rude.

Indoor pools at the following rec centers are scheduled to reopen on August 16:

  • Athmar
  • Carla Madison (one for laps, one for leisure)
  • Central Park
  • Glenarm
  • Montclair
  • Montbello
  • Rude
  • Scheitler

Also on August 16, four fitness centers will reopen at Central Park, Glenarm, Montbello and Scheitler.

The city used rec centers to provide other services throughout the pandemic, including COVID-19 testing, emergency shelter and serving more than 100,000 meals to kids last year.

However, recreation center staffers were furloughed. Martinez said his department is short at least 17 full-time staffers, and on-call staff like lifeguards, coaches and instructors will need to be rehired.

Denver Public Library on Thursday also provided an update on its services. City Librarian Michelle Jeske noted the library continued serving people throughout the pandemic despite being close, including providing WiFi connectivity near its library branches. The library system reopened nine branches last week. More branches are expected to open in April.

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