WESTFIELD, NJ — The town’s municipal parks are slated to reopen with social distancing restrictions in place starting Saturday, the same day that county and state parks are reopening after 25 days of being closed due to coronavirus, the mayor said.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said Wednesday that the local officials’ largest concern was the potential for crowding at town parks as result of the nearby county parks closing.
“With the county’s decision to re-open their parks on Saturday, we believe this will help to alleviate this concern,” Brindle said in her update. “As a result, parks and fields in Westfield will be re-opened to the public on Saturday, May 2, including those owned by the Town and by the Board of Education.”
The following restrictions will be in place to maintain social distancing, Brindle said:
Parking lots will remain closed. The town asks that, in using the parks and fields, residents walk or bike to nearby locations as part of the ongoing stay at home order that discourages all non-essential travel.
Parks and fields are to be used for passive recreational purposes only. Only individual activities are permitted, such as walking, jogging and bicycling. For these activities, individuals may be accompanied by family members, caretakers or other household members.
Restrooms will be closed, as will all playgrounds, basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts. Organized sports, fitness classes, or other gatherings are not permitted.
Fields 1 and 2 at Tamaques will be fenced off due to seeding, aeration, and maintenance.
Mindowaskin Park will remain closed until further notice due to construction to restore the pathways.
Brindle had previously said police have been enforcing the parks’ closure through the use of drones that emit a siren and recorded message to warn violators.
Police Chief Battiloro said Tuesday the department has two certified drone operators.
“They are police department drones being operated by police officers,” Battiloro said.
Brindle reported four more cases of Westfield residents testing positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.
The mayor expressed concern that with pleasant weather anticipated it would be difficult to maintain social distancing at the parks.
“I am very concerned that, in spite of best efforts, it may be difficult to maintain proper social distancing with the upcoming forecast for a nice weather weekend,” Brindle said. “Please exercise special precautions to help us make this initial reopening a success for everyone by following the guidelines in place.”
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