City parks, while technically not closed, aren’t the place for gatherings right now

Parks can be an excellent place to practice social distancing.

But some of the elements of developed parks — basketball courts, playgrounds, etc. where gatherings are to some degree inevitable — are places where, well, people shouldn’t be right now.

The balance between the need for recreation and the need for social distancing has unfolded at the City of Warren municipal building.

“City staff has had numerous discussions about this very topic,” City Manager Nancy Freenock told the Times Observer on Thursday. “There is no practical way for the parks to be closed.”

Freenock said restroom facilities at city parks do remain closed.

“The playground equipment is sanitized,” she said, “but not after each use, so I would advise that people not use that equipment.”

And park vandalism is always something that the city has to consider.

“Staff has serious concerns about damage related to vandalism that could result if the courts and skate park were closed,” Freenock said. “If there is significant damage to recreational facilities in the current economic climate, I am unsure if the city would be in a position to make repairs.

“At some point, everyone must take personal responsibility and parents should educate their children about the pandemic and how to keep themselves and others safe.”


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