To say the summer of 2020 is exceptional would be an understatement!
Willoughby is experiencing continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic backlash it has created. As we move through the next months, we will face continued unknowns. We are working under guidelines and directives as issued by the State of Ohio and the Lake County General Health District, and both authorities issue frequent updates for activities that include rules regarding social distancing and mass gatherings.
The guidelines for public pools place significant restrictions on operations, including the minimum number of swimmers and occupants on the pool decks as well as cleaning and disinfecting at two-hour intervals. This puts additional pressures on our seasonal help at the pools, which are mostly students. Our Parks and Recreation Department surveyed 2019 season pass holders to gauge interest in opening the pools, and the results showed no clear support for opening or closing them. We also looked at several models to open the pools for three-hour time slots. Finally, we studied opening both pools and opening a single pool. In the end, we decided it would be impossible to meet the requirements for social distancing and ensure the safety of our children and their guardians. The models also indicated that opening a single pool could result in a loss of up to $90,000 and opening both pools would represent a little less than double this figure. This is an important consideration because as of this writing, we are approximately $1 million behind in income tax collection from the same time last year. Income tax represents about 67% of our total operating revenue. Other revenue sources which include fees for services, fines, licenses, among others, are also down.
It is also unfortunate that due to the same social distancing and mass gathering restrictions, we postponed the July 4th fireworks until mass gathering numbers increase, like nearly every other community in Lake County.
Our baseball and softball leagues have begun play and playgrounds are open. We ask our residents to wash their hands before and after use of our play structures. We are also happy to announce other summer events will begin in July. These are activities where social distancing and crowd management are more manageable, and attendance is easier to estimate. Our gazebo concerts will start on July 9th, and outdoor movies will begin in July. Live Well Willoughby, sponsored by the Downtown Willoughby Organization is on August 15th; Artsfest, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce is Saturday, August 29th; and the DTW Rib Burn-Off, sponsored by the Bar and Restaurant Association will be September 26th and 27th. We are also planning a sunset concert at Osborne Park on September 2nd and working on other events for the Lakefront District.
Finally, we have been developing economic re-entry programs for both our Historic Downtown and the Lakefront District. We will be introducing these in the upcoming weeks and hope you will continue to shop and eat local.
Have a great summer.