Town leaders say the measures are necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Ronni Newton
In an effort to ensure the community is abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other health and safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the Town of West Hartford has decided to close additional recreational facilities, including tennis courts at municipal and school facilities and the pickleball courts at Wolcott Park.
In addition, although the state has permitted golf courses to reopen, both Rockledge and Buena Vista will remain closed, Hart said.
Hart said town leaders discussed reopening the courses, utilizing online signups for tee time and perhaps only allowing one person per cart, but decided it still posed too great a risk.
“Some weeks down the line perhaps that will change, but they are closed for the near future,” Hart said.
“We also decided that while tennis and pickleball don’t attract sizable crowds, and there is not contact to the same extent as basketball, we’re concerned about the ability to maintain appropriate social distancing at those places, too,” said Hart. “We are committed to making a concerted effort to maintain social distancing while the state deals with a surge.”
“We are taking these difficult steps required to protect against community spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Shari Cantor said.
She said she and other town leaders understand and appreciate the value of being outdoors and physically active, however, “our priority is the health and well-being of our community and right now this is necessary to enforce physical distancing.”
Most tennis courts are able to be locked, and there will not be a need to remove the nets, Hart said. Basketball courts were closed last week and rims have been removed, and playscapes closed last week as well.
Parks, fields, and trails otherwise remain open, but groups must adhere to the five-person state-mandated requirement.
“We are at a critical stage of this highly contagious and dangerous virus. Our main objective is to prevent people from congregating in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19,” Helen Rubino-Turco, director of Leisure Services & Social Services said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate conditions and reopen these facilities as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.”
In West Hartford, total positive cases of the disease spiked from to 20 as of Tuesday afternoon, an increase of eight over the previous day. The first West Hartford positive case was recored on March 20.
Hart urged everyone to support the governor’s recommendations to stay home and stay safe..
“People need to continue to do their best. We understand this is a trying time,” said Hart. Outdoor activity is still permitted and recommended, but it needs to take place solo, or with family members with whom you are living, to ensure appropriate physical distancing guidelines are followed.
In addition, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has stated that anyone using public watershed areas in the state for recreational purposes, including the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) reservoirs off Farmington Avenue and Reservoir No. 6 off Route 44, “must maintain social distancing of 6 feet or more when walking, hiking, jogging, or biking,” the MDC posted on its website.
Large crowds at MDC facilities have been reported, and in order to keep the number of people using the facilities at any one time limited, parking has been further restricted, with about 40-50 spots eliminated at the Farmington Avenue facility. When parking fills open, access will close until additional spaces open up.
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