Skaters

In January, before the COVID-19 pandemic, skaters enjoy Callahan Park ice rink. City of Bradford parks staff have concerns about opening the rink while the pandemic is underway.

The ice rink at Callahan Park will be opening Nov. 1 for hockey, and one month later to the public. Yet the City of Bradford parks department workers don’t feel it’s ready.

The three full-time employees and their union representatives have sent three letters to Mayor James McDonald and Bradford City Council, asking for written rules that will not only protect those using the rink, but the staff working it as well.

In a letter dated Thursday, the staff — foreman Tom Shay and laborers Pat Goff and Steve Newton — and Teamsters Local 110 union representative Ken Arble said operation and safety planning regulations had been requested, but not received, and “our time is running low.”

The men spelled out that in the spring, while the case count in the region was very low or non-existent, the city had furloughed staff. Yet now that the case counts have been increasing, the city is looking to open the rink.

“We have an understanding that apparently it’s not part of the safety guidelines to take temperatures” of people using the rink, or to get names and phone numbers. This way, should someone come down with the virus, there is a record of people to contact. “We are requesting that this step of precaution be taken.”

When asked by The Era, McDonald didn’t give a direct answer to whether this step is under consideration.

His statement to The Era read as follows: “I read the letter that the parks employees sent out and can see that some of them are concerned about health and safety on the job.

“That’s why the city has constantly abided by and pushed for healthy, thorough Covid guidelines since last March. State guidelines and CDC protocols have become a familiar way of life for the city employees.”

The mayor said guidelines are being developed.

“I am working with city administrator Chris Lucco and Department Head Chip Comilla to develop ‘Bradford-specific’ guidelines that keep people safe and healthy while encouraging people to be free of the confinement of their homes,” McDonald said. “Our employees will be in possession of the city safety guidelines before the rink opens for the season.

“We encourage an honest open dialog from our employees any time they have a concern about how we provide service to the citizens of Bradford.”

McDonald added, “There are so many front line workers in our great country right now and they hold many different job titles and I consider our parks guys to be right up there with them.”

The letter to the city officials from the parks workers indicated they have received “suits, sanitizing solution and sanitizing fogger” to use in cleaning the rink.

However, the staff indicated they have other concerns, too.

“It is our goal as a department to provide a safe working environment for our employees and, in turn, protecting our families that we go home to after every shift as well,” the letter stated.

The parks staff also mentioned the cost involved with opening the rink for a maximum of 19 or 20 skaters, the difficulty enforcing and maintaining the 6-foot social distance requirement and the difficulty enforcing the masking requirement.

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