Community Center, library to resume in-person services

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 24, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — After having to shut down certain services for months at a time in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, Sterling Heights’ Community Center and public library are starting to reintroduce in-person activities and services, at least in a limited way.

Sterling Heights Recreation Supervisor Troy Nowotny said that, over the past few months, the department has continued some exercise programs through the pandemic in a virtual format. In addition, Nowotny said, the Parks and Recreation Department has also hosted some online e-sports video game tournaments, such as one for Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros.” series.

But as of the week of Jan. 19, the Community Center was starting to transition some programs back to the building, in person — with health, capacity and social distancing guidelines in place.

“We’re really excited to open that up again,” Nowotny explained. “If you recall, we had finished the renovations at the end of 2019. We were starting to get more interest in the Community Center, and then COVID happened, which really stopped the momentum.”

The main catalyst, officials said, was the state of Michigan’s mid-January decision to ease restrictions on some forms of in-person group exercise. Examples of programs that the Community Center is hosting in the building include gymnastics, karate and fitness classes, Nowotny said. One-on-one matches for pickleball or table tennis are other examples of activities the Community Center is housing, he added.

“We will be opening up some of our athletic programs and activities on a limited basis,” he said. “It’s still pretty limited, but we are excited to be able to reopen the building for people to come in once again.”

Library begins reopening
Sterling Heights Public Library officials said Jan. 15 that their building will stay closed to the public until at least Feb. 1. They cited the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ extended emergency order on COVID-19 as a reason.

Over the last several months, the library has offered digital library services, curbside pickup, some delivery services and so on. Library staff added that in-person library programming will start Jan. 20, but it’d be limited in scope.

Jason Groth, the library public relations and programs coordinator at the Sterling Heights Public Library, said his library hopes to have its doors open to the public by Feb. 1. However, he said the call will ultimately depend on what the MDHHS guidelines say.

“We’re kind of in a ‘wait and see,’ but we’re hoping to be open by then,” Groth said. “We’re still going to be limited by the renovation phase. We’re going to be in renovation phase two. A good one-third to one-quarter of the building would still be blocked.”

Whenever patrons are officially allowed to return, things still won’t quite return to normal, Groth explained.

“We’re going to have to limit the amount of people who come in based on the limited space that we have,” Groth continued. “We will let people use our computers, and we will let them browse the shelves. But they’re not going to be able to sit down, lounge or have extended conversations. (They’ll) use our services and have to vacate.”

The current in-person services, he explained, are mainly children’s programs such as crafts and story time sessions that the library can safely host by isolating people according to households and maintaining social distancing.

“A lot of children have been really missing that community feeling,” Groth explained. “We want to accommodate them as safely as possible.”

Meanwhile, not far from the library, the Upton House Museum is also opening up a bit for limited tours. Starting Jan. 20, the Sterling Heights Historical Commission set up tour times for up to four people from the same household.

Groth said the library is excited that the Upton House tours are back, adding that the city has hired a new archives librarian, Karen Turk, “who’s big into Sterling Heights history.”

 Interested Upton House guests may sign up in advance as half-hour slots are available 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays and the second Sunday of every month. Register online by visiting endar. Find out more about the Sterling Heights Public Library by visiting

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2700.