The Seymour Parks and Recreation Department has taken additional measures to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases locally.
Having already locked up baseball and softball diamonds at the city’s parks March 21, employees cordoned off playground equipment, shelter houses and the skatepark Friday and removed basketball goals Tuesday as a result of larger groups regularly playing basketball games.
All of the actions are in an effort to keep people from gathering in groups of 10 or more and to promote social distancing, said Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Findley.
The restrictions are not something she or Mayor Matt Nicholson wanted to do, but both felt it was important in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the community and complying with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s orders for people to stay at home.
Initially, parks employees were sanitizing playground equipment throughout the day and trying to limit crowds. The state, however, now has required only trails and green spaces remain open.
“Our department has been flexible beyond measure with the changing situation regarding COVID-19,” Findley said.
But people are not being mindful and understanding of the changes, she said.
“Unfortunately, I do not feel the public has been taking the quarantine seriously,” she said.
Findley said the decision to lock the restrooms a couple of weeks ago was due to a major increase in vandalism and theft.
Not only are people not abiding by the governor’s shelter-in-place orders, they are putting others, including parks staff, at risk, she said.
“When our department staff approach individuals or groups that are in violation, they react in a defensive and disrespectful manner,” she said. “As a department director, a major priority is the safety of my own staff.”
Police have been instrumental in helping the parks department enforce the new restrictions, she said.
Findley said she understands staying at home has been an inconvenience for many and in some cases even a financial burden, but with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana increasing at such a rapid rate, it’s necessary.
“The severity of COVID-19 continues to rise, and we must hunker down to save lives,” she said. “I am afraid that the city of Seymour will underestimate the severity until the cases and death tolls are increased.”
If people must get out, the parks remain open for those wanting to take a walk, she said.
“We must be creative in ways to observe social distancing while maintaining the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise,” she said. “The parks are still open and have many great sidewalks to utilize as part of your walking route.”
Besides walking, Findley suggests people go for a bicycle ride or try an online exercise video at home.
“These are all appropriate means of exercise,” she said.
She hopes the situation will improve by May 1 and all park features will be accessible then, but everyone is taking it day by day, she said.
“This has been a trying time for our department as our mission is to encourage play and park usage,” she said.