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PLYMOUTH — Friday the city of Plymouth made the announcement that the Park Department would be closing the playgrounds in Centennial Park.
The efforts of the state of Indiana to stop the spread of COVID-19 gave Superintendent Mike Hite little choice.
“The Governor’s statement was that playgrounds should be closed,” he said. “We can’t cordon off the whole playground area but we did put signs up at this time.”
Another park facility is also closed and was actually never open yet this season.
“The restrooms haven’t been open at all yet this year,” said Hite. “Usually they are open by this time of year. It was getting close to the time we would normally open them, but with the governor’s proclamation, we decided to leave them closed for now.”
Other park departments in the area have gone to the extent of removing or covering the hoops on public basketball courts to stop people from playing pick up games.
Hite says that Plymouth’s parks will not be one of them, for now.
“What we are looking at is hopefully people using sense and self-restraint from congregating in groups of ten or more in keeping with the Governor’s proclamation,” he said.
“Tennis is still open, the basketball courts are still open, the trails are open and we are just asking people to follow the guidelines of six feet apart,” said Hite. “That’s the best policy.”
With the springtime weather becoming milder and the restrictions on any indoor facility where people might congregate, the parks and especially the Greenway Trail have become a very popular place for those wanting a little exercise, or just to get out of the house.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in people at the park,” said Hite. “Just walking around or doing other things, like playing basketball.”
That beginning of spring weatherwise is also making something else a necessity. Park crews will get back to the job this week on a part-time basis to maintain the facilities.
“Right now my guys are coming back this week and starting half days,” said Hite. “We are going to be mowing grass, picking up sticks, just spring clean up.”
“We will be emptying the pool because we still have to assume that the pool will be open at some point and we need to have it ready, clean it up,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t open we can’t leave it the way it is over the summer.”
While things are at least close to business as usual for Hite’s crew, he still doesn’t have a crystal ball to tell the future. Those who planned or normally have family gatherings in the park during the summer may have to change those plans.
“The biggest thing is that I don’t have answers,” said Hite. “(People) call me about reservations (for park facilities) and a couple of weeks ago we had to cancel everything eight weeks out for bookings. Now we will be getting people wanting pavilion (outdoor) rentals. I’m just waiting for word from those higher up on what to do so far as canceling or not canceling those reservations.”