Wrangell’s recreational facilities are now open for the first time since March. That includes the city’s Nolan Center, Parks and Recreation and the public library.
The Nolan Center opened last weekend with a showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Nolan Center Director Cyni Crary says the movie theater will continue to show second-run films for free. That is, until more movies are available.
“Studios are not open yet. So we don’t have the ability to get new movies until July. So we’re playing old movies,” she says.
That is just one of many changes at Wrangell’s public facilities. The Nolan Center, Parks and Recreation and the library have all implemented COVID-19 mitigation protocols. Those include increased sanitation, rules about social distancing and mandatory face coverings, in some instances.
Crary says movie theater seating is spaced out to accommodate families, couples and those out on their own — as many as 85 people.
“There’s rows where there are like four seats together, and then there are multiple spots where every seat is six feet apart,” she says.
Events at the Nolan center will gradually resume. Crary says a small bridal shower booked the venue for a date in June. A few wedding receptions in July are also on the calendar.
Last Monday, the library reopened with limited hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Patrons must cover their faces and mask are available for those without one. A maximum of 10 patrons are allowed in at a time.
The library had offered curbside book pickup. Since the library closed its doors, it wasn’t asking folks to return their books. Now books are due, says Library Director Margaret Villarma.
“There have been no overdue fines for all this time, but they will start now,” she says.
For the summer reading program, students would normally come to the library to take their accelerated reader tests. This year, kids participating will fill out a simple log with their parents of time spent reading. And, the end of the program pool party is cancelled.
Parks and Recreation cardio and weight rooms are now open. There’s limits on capacity, and equipment is spaced out. The swimming pool will open next week. Kate Thomas is the city’s Parks and Recreation director.
“Folks are trickling in today,” she said Tuesday. “We anticipate some higher numbers of participation or visitation next week with the swimming pool, as that’s sort of the main attraction or draw to the facility. And people can’t replace it with that home workout or fitness.”
Even the racquetball court is open for a couple of players, but organized adult sports like wallyball and pickleball are on hold.
“Our biggest issue with opening up the gymnasium right now for activity is the staff capacity to disinfect that after each use,” Thomas says.
Thomas says group activities will eventually return this summer. She and her staff are weighing their options, easing into reopening.
The summer youth program will not bring together the 50 or so kids it usually would. Instead Thomas is planning a variety of smaller, more intimate group activities.
“Ten kids might be able to go to the community garden and work on some garden beds, or 10 kids would join Lucy Robinson for a nature trail excursion and running event,” she says. “So we’re limiting the number of kids and narrowing down the focus to be one medium, if you will.”
Thomas is looking for public feedback to shape what summer rec opportunities look like. She hasn’t received a lot of comments, but the department continues to hold public meetings.