CAIRO — Town officials closed the Angelo Canna Park, saying Friday that visitors are not heeding state directives.
With more than 85,000 reported cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. on Friday, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health experts and state leaders are urging residents to stay home and practice social distancing.
While outdoor exercise is encouraged, congregation is not.
Some local municipalities are facing difficulties in how to keep their constituents safe and healthy during this time.
“People from out of the area, people from Connecticut and New Jersey and from the city were using the walking park and kids were over playing basketball,” Cairo Town Councilman Jason Watts said. “Being that we have to be half-staffed, we don’t have enough people to keep things cleaned. We can’t police everything.”
The town board decided to close the park last week, Watts said.
“It really wasn’t even the locals,” he said. “That’s the sad part. We’re getting our stuff taken away. Hopefully it will open back up soon. It was really for our own safety.”
Watts supports the town’s decision.
“I wanted to close it a week earlier,” he said, adding that he saw about 12 kids playing down there. “It was too hard to just close down the playground and leave the walking part open.”
Although the parks remain open in Coxsackie, enforcing the closure of the playgrounds at Riverside Park and McQuade Park remains an issue, Mayor Mark Evans said.
“We closed the playgrounds and it’s posted,” he said. “Fencing off the playgrounds is kind of impractical. People would just try to go around it.”
The signs are not entirely effective, Evans said.
“A fair amount of people are disregarding the signs,” he said. “We found people out there playing basketball and playing football. I had asked the police to go and disperse them. It’s not a huge problem but we do have people not heeding the directive from the state.”
Residents may still use the parks, Evans said.
“Other than the park’s playground, people are welcome to use the parks if they want to go walk and for things like that if they want, that’s fine, just keep their distance,” Evans said.
Outdoor recreation has been quite popular, Evans said.
“The park downtown has got a tremendous amount of traffic down there, it’s just packed with cars,” he said. People are enjoying great weather and enjoying the view of river. Thank goodness we have parks like that right now, it’s the only thing people have to do.”
Athens Village Trustee Joshua Lipsman said there has not been any discussion of closing parks or overcrowded parks, such as Athens Riverfront Park.
The Windham Path remains open, said Nick Bove, one of the founders.
“It’s very busy but it would be a huge mistake to close in my opinion,” he said.
Catskill parks such as Dutchman’s Landing and Elliott Park remain open, Village President Vincent Seeley said.
The village has no plans to close the parks as of now and is continuing to encourage social distancing, Seeley said.
The Greenville Town Park also remains open.
On March 16, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that all state parks, trails and grounds of historic sites are open for activities such as walking, hiking, running and biking. All entrance fees during the current COVID-19 public health crisis have been waived, according to parks.ny.gov.
All indoor visitor facilities are closed, as are state park playgrounds, campgrounds, athletic courts and sporting fields.