Mayor Kevin Corcoran used one of his weekly city updates posted on the North Ridgeville website to announce a push to reopen municipal facilities and activities closed to the public because of the pandemic
Corcoran particularly talked about reopening City Council meetings to the public.
“Vaccination rates are up and we’re talking about how we can bring the public back into the City Hall process,” Corcoran said, including allowing the public to attend City Council meetings, Planning Commission sessions and other government meetings.
“We want people to return. We want people to be part of the process,” said City Council President Martin DeVries.
Corcoran also mentioned opening the popular water park, the Splash Pad, as well as allowing Fourth of July fireworks and celebrations this year.
City Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fougerousse said he hopes to have the Splash Pad open at 10 a.m. May 2.
The mayor also talked about reopening the city senior center and discussions among city officials on how the center will operate. The senior center closed about a year ago in accordance with the orders of the state health department. Corcoran did not offer any details about its reopening.
The position of center director is vacant.
“The Parks and Recreation Department will follow all COVID-19 guidelines when opening our splash pad this summer as we did in 2020,” Fougerousse said. “Appropriate signage will be reposted outlining the rules and regulations of use.”
The only summer fireworks held last year in North Ridgeville blasted off in Victory Sports Park Sept. 6. South Central Park is usually the site for municipal Independence Day fireworks.
“We are even reaching out to the Corn Festival committee and seeing if we can talk them into moving forward with the festival this year,” Corcoran said in the video. The Corn Festival website mentions the 2021 festival could happen Aug. 13-15.
The Corn Festival is North Ridgeville’s premier summer event and includes a parade, hundreds of vendors, fireworks, a car show, live entertainment and, of course, plenty of corn on the cob. The event attracts thousands of visitors.
“It’s a great event for the city and it’s just a lot of fun,” DeVries said.
Former City Councilwoman Bernadine Butkowski and her husband, John, run the Corn Festival Committee, Corcoran added. He said the committee has not made any decision about a 2021 festival. A voicemail left at the Corn Festival office was not returned.
The reopening of municipal facilities and the holding of events such as the Corn Festival and Independence Day fireworks all are dependent on continuing decreases in the number of local coronavirus cases and increases in the number of people getting vaccinated, Corcoran said. He added it is important people feel comfortable attending a City Council meeting or joining crowds at festivals or events.
“The governor still has a limit on 10 people or less,” Corcoran said. “We’re planning for the future when that order changes.”
DeVries said even though council meetings are closed to the public, residents are able to view them on Zoom and electronically submit questions.
Avon and Avon Lake have been holding in-person legislative meetings for a few months. DeVries said he feels North Ridgeville could not follow suit because of the size of the council chambers. He said there would have been no room for proper social distancing and the situation might have proved unsafe.
“But as long as the numbers continue to decline, we can talk about opening things back up,” DeVries continued, adding the city would follow any state or county guidelines.
While council meetings remain closed to the public, City Hall has been open for routine business since late last year.
“We only had our doors closed for a few months,” Corcoran said.
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