Village recreation continues opening

Melanie Harmon, left, and Wendy Payne prepare to paddle out for a trip on the Little Tennessee River.

With summer around the corner and COVID-19 restrictions being loosened, the Tellico Village Recreation Department is one step closer to returning to a sense of normalcy.

Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association recreation director, said the Wellness Center, Chota Recreation Center and the Kahite Community Center loosened more COVID-19 restrictions Monday.

“The timing’s really good because we’re basically opening everything up to where we’re going to open up the saunas and there’s no more reservations,” Bradbury said. “For the longest time, people had to call or go online and reserve classes and spaces and exercise rooms. We’re lifting all that except for the pool in the early morning, so that’s all lifted. Chota pool opened Monday, Kahite pool opened Monday and Tugaloo Park was staffed starting (Sunday). Numbers are rising, and we’re exceeding our projections for what we had for the budget year.”

The department now has 85 classes, which is the most offered simultaneously.

The POA and Tellico Village Recreation Advisory Committee have noticed an increase in class and activity participation over the last two months due to warmer weather and a decline in COVID-19 cases.

“Part of it is because we’re using Chota (Recreation Center) now, so you’ve got the Chota gym going on at the same time as the Wellness Center,” Bradbury said. “We’ve got more classes than we’ve ever had and with the restrictions gone now, the classes are filling up. The only restriction we have right now is in the morning with our pool and we can only have six or seven reserve a lane, but that’s not due to COVID. Every phase of this, we lay out new updates and then we assess it for several weeks and get feedback. We’ve laid all these new updates out, but we may find that we need to scale back or might need to change this.”

Kayaking and paddleboarding are two of the most popular recreational activities in the summer. Paddleboarding 101 will begin next week at Tugaloo Park.

“We focus on safety and we go through the rules of the lake of what’s safe and what’s not safe,” Jean Clesen, Paddleboarding 101 instructor, said. “It’s like watching out, making sure you know what the weather report is, making sure you have some type of communication on the board with you like a phone. I teach people how to get on and off the board in the deep water and how to paddle and maintain their balance on the board. Whether people are taking a class or not, it has gotten big. A lot of people want to hit those paddleboards.”

Clesen also teaches unique paddleboard classes that incorporate cardiovascular exercises while on the water.

“It’s about the safety and being safe on that board and what do they need to do,” she said. “I teach a paddleboard fitness class, which is a combination of balance, cardio, do a little bit of yoga. We’ll go out there and we’ll paddle and then we’ll stand and do downward dog and things like that just for an hour.”

Several other projects have been completed or advanced, Bradbury said. The PicklePlex project, funded by the Timeless Tellico Foundation, is now in the design stage.

The Wellness Center roofing project is also complete.

“I can tell you we’re in the design phase of the PicklePlex project with the foundation and working with the POA,” Bradbury said. “We just got approved for more naming rights and we’ll be discussing more opportunities to put corporate sponsors down.”