Thirty-four (34) closed Wisconsin state parks and recreational areas will reopen Friday, but their bathrooms will remain closed to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by limiting enclosed spaces where the disease could be more easily transmitted.
Gov. Tony Evers had closed 38 parks and recreational areas on April 10. Evers says numerous changes including reducing park hours, temporarily closing some of the most popular parks if they become overcrowded and keeping the bathrooms closed will make state parks safe to re-open.
Playgrounds are still closed under the extended stay-at-home order.
All Franklin playgrounds have been closed since March 22nd. Playground equipment should not be used at this time. Park green spaces and trails can still be used, but the city of Franklin has asked people to practice social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet between others. Kayla’s Playground in Franklin now sits idle. Even before the shutdown bathrooms were cleaned only once per day and were not guaranteed to be sanitized or stocked.
Progress is being made and it would be beneficial to the public to get local playgrounds and parks open once again. Even Gov. Evers concedes, “Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather.”
According to freelance journalist and researcher John Surico parks play a more significant role. They’re lifesavers.
Surico recently wrote on CityLab:
“…parks have become stages for collective joy, anxiety, and social-distancing infringement crackdowns. The multiplicity of benefits parks have always offered us — physical and mental health relief, community building, and free public open space in tight, increasingly privatized urban quarters — seem not only like an added bonus right now, but rather, a critical lifeline for cities and their residents.”
Surico’s focus may be specifically on larger cities, but he raises the general issue of reawaken interest in parks and open spaces, as he calls for a more robust effort to support parks that doesn’t include a significant burden on taxpayers.
That’s long-term planning I could get behind. But for now I’d like the locks on parks and playgrounds removed ASAP.