CHESHIRE — As the summer begins, those who have been inside during the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eager to be outdoors, and Cheshire Parks and Recreation might have the solution.
According to Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak, the majority of the town’s parks are now open to residents, along with the new tennis/pickleball courts at Cheshire Park.
“The Cheshire Dog Park, Skate Park, and tennis courts are all open,” he said. “Mixville is tricky since it’s considered an interior recreation water area and pursuant to recent Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recommendations.” Regardless, Gawlak and his team have hopes to get Mixville up and running within the next few weeks.
Gawlak added that most of the playgrounds are open, but they have signs stating “Use at your own risk” due to the pandemic.
“We can’t be sanitizing the playgrounds all day, everyday,” Gawlak said. “But Bartlem did get some new Kids In Motion playground equipment.”
Recently, the local softball and baseball fields have also opened, allowing for weekend teams to meet for their tournaments.
“We’ve had men’s and women’s softball start up again, and Public Works has been great in trying to get those fields ready for them,” Gawlak said.
Perhaps the anticipated moment in the last few weeks was the introduction of the brand new tennis/pickleball courts, for which the Parks and Recreation Department held a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 19.
“People are really eager to get out there and get on the courts, (and) you can’t really blame them,” Gawlak said.
Despite the parks reopening, Gawlak warns that people still need to follow the appropriate safety guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control as well as the local health district.
“People still need to use extreme caution when they utilize our parks,” he advised. “People still need to socially distance, wash and sanitize their hands and any equipment they might use because the Parks Department cannot be everywhere at once.”
According to Gawlak, the department is in the middle of a hiring freeze, which puts the already-small team at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting the pandemic, and the Public Works Department had “all of their summer staff essentially eliminated.”
“It has been difficult to get everything ready for the summer months,” Gawlak added. “Without appropriate staffing it is hard to reopen to full capacity.”
The Cheshire Community Pool, which suffered a small setback when Aquatics Director Shelia Adams discovered multiple tears in the liner, is also open with a brand-new pool liner.
The Cheshire pool is asking swimmers to reserve a time to come swim. There will be 3 hour and 15 minute blocks to be at the pool before the next group comes in. The pool will be shut down for a period of time for cleaning before the next group comes into the facility.
“We will also be sanitizing on a regular basis throughout the day,” Adams said before the opening.
Other area towns have also opened pools. In Southington, the town pools at Recreation and Memorial parks opened June 27. In Meriden, the Hubbard Park pool opened July 1.
“It’s not going to be a normal pool season by any stretch but we are looking forward to opening,” Southington Director Recreation David Lapreay said last month. “Everyone’s been cooped up for a while. We are excited to get it going. It will be difficult at times, but we hope people will abide by the rules. As we move along, we hope to increase capacity.”