The Rucker Sports Complex will open for full practices and games starting June 15. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
The Rucker Sports Complex will open for full practices and games starting June 15. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Both the Rucker Sports Complex and Crystal Beach public pool will be open for business beginning June 15 under a new plan unveiled by City of Madison Parks & Recreation Director Seth Pennington on Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Parks Board.

The guidelines issued by the Parks Department will mirror those that have been laid out by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and are subject to change at any time. Among the regulations that will need to be followed will be maintaining proper social distancing and keeping the number of individuals in each area down to a minimum.

“I just want to thank the staff from the parks department. They’ve been working very diligently and thoughtfully under very difficult circumstances to make sure all of the parks operations are finally opening and doing it safely,” Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said. “The entire parks department has done a really good job of putting a lot of thought behind how we bring these services back to the community. That’s been our goal since day one.”

The Rucker Sports Complex opened on May 22 for practices by travel teams with no more than 100 persons per space but will open for all teams starting June 15 as Indiana enters Stage 4 of the governor’s plan for reopening. Under those restrictions, each space will be limited to 250 people and only those spectators necessary for travel will be admitted. Starting July 4, games will resume with standard operations.

Pennington said that the parks department will take several steps to ensure the safety of individuals using the complex. He said that bleachers will be taken out of the complex and said that spectators will be encouraged to bring their own chairs so that they can spread around the field. He also said the concession stands will be closed, although the parks department is exploring the option of installing vending machines.

“Unfortunately, these are the guidelines that have been set down by the state,” Pennington said. “We know there is health concerns with the vending machines but there is not a lot else we can do at this time.”

In addition, Pennington said that hand sanitizers will be installed in every dugout and all throughout the facility and he said players will be encouraged to use their own sporting equipment, rather than sharing with others. Umpires will be moved from behind the plate to in between the pitcher and second base and handshakes after games will also be eliminated and replaced with another “sportsmanlike gesture.”

Registration for the summer leagues is now under way through June 5 by calling the parks department at 812-265-8308 or by visiting Pennington also said that refunds will be issued to anybody who signed up early but now does not feel comfortable participating.

The parks department also announced that traditional men’s and women`s softball leagues, as well as church softball, will also be offered. Please register your team by June 10 at the latest.

Crystal Beach will also open June 15 and will operate under some of the same rules.

A maximum of 250 people — including staff — will be allowed in the pool area at one time and as a result, the parks department has set up a three-tiered schedule every day to accommodate as many people as possible.

The pool will be open from 9:30-10:30 a.m. each morning for senior swim only and after a half-hour break for sanitizing, the pool will reopen from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Another half-hour sanitizing break will be followed by a final session from 3:30-7 p.m. The sessions will count separately and those wishing to attend both will have to pay to enter both times.

“I think some people will see it as the price rising but in reality, the price is remaining the same despite the increase costs of operating the pool,” Courtney said.

In order to stay abreast of the number of individuals in the pool at one time, pass outs will not be available. Pool passes will also not be sold although Pennington said that those previously purchased will be honored.

“We have to know who is goes in and comes out and right now we just don’t have a way to track that,” Pennington said. “Hopefully in the future that is something that we will be able to do, but right now, this is how will have to be for the foreseeable future.”

Unlike the Rucker Sports Complex, the concession stand will be open at Crystal Beach. The slide will also be open, with the proper social distancing.

The next meeting of the Parks Board will be Wednesday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m.