Mayor Mike Bawden has prepared a draft of guidelines for re-opening the City’s playgrounds and public gathering places like the Council Chambers and Community Room at City Hall. These guidelines take into consideration public health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak and, if passed, will go into effect on June 1, 2020.
Parks and Playgrounds
The guidelines allow for visitors to use the parks from sunrise to sunset, but requires individuals or family units (those people living in the same household) to maintain at least a distance of six feet between groups. Picnicking and sunbathing in the parks will be permitted (as of June 1), but only if proper social distancing protocols are followed. Masks are not required but are encouraged.
Other rules related to the parks – specifically anti-littering provisions and no open flames – remain in effect. If park visitors want to use an on-site structure (e.g. the gazebo in Volunteer Park or the shelters in Peggy’s Park or Bicentennial Park), they may do so, but there are additional guidelines that must be followed and the facilities must be reserved at City Hall prior to their use.
With specific regard to playgrounds, the mayor’s proposal includes the use of PLAYGROUND GUIDES to help supervise the activities during restricted hours (10 am to 5:30 pm). Children (and their siblings or adult supervisors) are asked to take turns using equipment so only one child is on a piece of equipment at a time. Everyone using playground equipment is required to wear a mask or cloth face covering. If they don’t have one, the mayor proposes the City provide a face covering that can be returned (for cleaning) after use.
When the playgrounds close, the PLAYGROUND GUIDES will be tasked with disinfecting and wiping down the equipment to prepare it for the next day.
The parks and playground guidelines are intended to run through August 15 but may be extended if deemed necessary by the mayor.
Public Gathering Spots
The mayor has also provided proposed guidelines to re-open the outdoor and indoor gathering spots in the City’s parks and at City Hall. These guidelines would go into effect on June 1, as well, and remain in effect until modified.
In general, the modified guidelines require people who want to use any of the public gathering spots to notify City staff at City Hall and obtain a permit. There is no cost for getting an occupancy permit for the gazebo or park shelters, but the City is asking residents to reserve no more than four hours at a time to allow other residents to enjoy the amenities at their leisure, as well. The permitting process also provides an opportunity for staff to review the guidelines for use with the resident and to answer any questions that may arise.
For the outdoor facilities, residents and their groups can meet at the location although the number of people allowed under the roof at one time is limited to reflect preferred social distance practices. Face coverings are highly recommended, but not required.
Outdoor gathering spots close when the parks close, at sunset, although accommodations can be made but may be subject to a fee and will be handled on a case-by-case basis (subject to mayoral or administrative approval).
As for the gathering spots at City Hall – most notably the Community Room, but also the Council Chambers – use is limited to one gathering per room per day, with strict attendance limitations. This is to allow time for staff to clean and disinfect the facilities between uses. Reservations will be posted to the calendar on the City’s website so individuals interested in reserving one room or the other will know what days are free.