By Michael DePietro
Interim Tribune Editor
With temperatures exceeding 90 degrees this week, Western New York finds itself in the midst of a sweltering summer heat wave. It’s so hot that in Buffalo, records are being broken. The Queen City is expected to break a 30-year-record for consecutive days with 90-degree temps, while Wednesday’s high of 94 degrees tied a record set in 1988.
It doesn’t appear that the area will see much of a reprieve, either. Apart from a bit of rain this weekend, temperatures are expected to hover around the upper-80s and lower-90s next week.
Unfortunately, the constant barrage of new COVID-19 related announcements and regulations are making it difficult for locals to know exactly where they can, and can’t go, to beat the summer heat. That’s why the Tribune has put together a handy list of some of the summer season amenities available to area residents.
Public Pools and Splash Pads
Sadly, all public pools and splash pads in the City of Niagara Falls, including the Hyde Park Pool Hyde Park Spray Park, 91st Street Pool and the Center Court Pool, are closed for the 2020 season. The same goes for North Tonawanda, where the Memorial Pool and the Raindrop Spray Pool will remain inactive this summer.
However, the splash pads at the county-owned Oppenheim and Krull parks opened at the end of June. Both splash pads are opened daily, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Additionally, in the Town of Tonawanda, the splash pads at Curtis, Ellwood, Kenilworth and Thurston Parks are open for use according to the town website. The sprinkler can be turned on by pushing a button on the side of the building. The website also cautions that facilities will not be staffed, and residents are advised to use them at their own risk. The Tonawanda splash parks are open every day, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Be advised that while the Lincoln Park big pool and wading pool will be open this season in Tonawanda, these facilities are only accessible to Village of Kenmore and Town of Tonawanda residents. A “Resident Access Card” will be required to enter.
Some good news, the pool at Fort Niagara State Park is open, albeit with some COVID-19 related guidelines and changes. The pool is at reduced capacity and re-entry is not guaranteed when the pool is at capacity. Last entry is at 5:30 p.m.
Local Lakes and Rivers
Wouldn’t it be great if we had some sort of eons-old, naturally occurring aquatic resource nearby? Oh wait, we do! A couple in fact. There are plenty of activities along the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.
Unfortunately, lake swimming at Krull County Park beach in Olcott remains closed for the season due to unsafe lake and beach conditions. However, residents might want to pack up their bathing suits and head on over to Grand Island. Beaches at Beaver Island State Park are open.
Swimming isn’t the only way to have fun and stay cool on the water. Western New York is home to a number of perfect spots to take the canoe out for a paddle. Head on up to Lewiston and launch your skiff at the Lewiston boat launch site (don’t forget to stop by the Silo for an ice cream cone!) and paddle on down to Fort Niagara in Youngstown. It’s a two-hour trip, so families can make a day of it.
If you’re in Niagara Falls, check out the Griffon Park kayak launch, or simply go for an easy cruise in the water at Hyde Park.
North Tonawanda residents have plenty of options, too, including the Niagara and Sweeney streets kayak launch and fishing dock, and the NT kayak launch facilities at the Botanical Gardens.
For more kayak and boat launch sites, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/23883.html.
•Niagara Falls/Niagara River
What better way to cool down than the misty spray from one of the natural wonders of the world? Plenty of amenities are now open with various safety precautions in place at Niagara Falls State Park.
One can visit the Cave of the Winds and cool down beneath the 75,000 gallons of water that cascades over the falls every second.
Don’t like stairs? Hop on one the Maid of the Mist VII or, later this summer, brand-new-zero-emission, all-electric vessels, and get an up close look at the falls.
If speed is more your thing, head down river just a bit further for the ride of your life. Jet boat rides can be had at Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours in Lewiston.
However you choose to beat the heat this summer, remember to be safe. In a statement released in June, Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton, whose department has been offering guidance to the county and local governments, offered words of advice about how to stay safe while using these types of facilities.
“We want to encourage parents and their children to be active and get outside, but the fact is use of playgrounds, splash pads and pools can increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. … That doesn’t mean you need to stay home, but rather be smart and take the necessary preventive measures if you do go to these places,” Stapleton said.
He noted the usual COVID-19 tips are still the best ways to protect one’s family and reduce risk, including:
√ Stay 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you, both in and out of the water. If you cannot stay 6 feet from individuals outside of your household of family unit, and are not in the water, wear a face covering.
√ For health and safety concerns, face coverings should not be worn by children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone in the water.
√ Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
√ Avoid sharing items with other people (for example goggles, toys, towels, drinks, etc.)
√ Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
√ Stay home if you do not feel well, have tested positive for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.