Brownstown officials discuss reopening process


Brownstown Park is set to reopen May 24.

If data about the COVID-19 pandemic continue to support a continued gradual reopening of the state’s economy, Stage 3 will begin that day, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced.

During that stage, playgrounds, pools, gyms and fitness facilities will be allowed to reopen with people practicing social distancing by staying 6 feet apart and facilities taking sanitation precautions. Those 65 and older may venture out cautiously, it’s recommended that people wear face masks in public settings and social gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the Brownstown Park Board unanimously approved the reopening date of the park but made an exception with organized events and practices.

President Brian Wheeler said a few people wanting to shoot baskets, families using the playground or people having lunch at the outdoor shelter house would be fine as long as they follow the state’s social distancing guidelines.

The baseball fields also will be open but just not for organized practices. If a father and son want to hit grounders, that’s fine, just not whole teams practicing, Wheeler said.

He recently learned from Brownstown Baseball Association officials, who use the park’s fields for practices and games, that practices won’t start until after June 14 and they will have an abbreviated season, while the Brownstown Girls Softball League moved its season back to August.

Stage 4 is set to start June 14, and recreational sports leagues and sporting competitions may resume at 50% capacity. Also, face coverings and masks will become optional, facilities such as zoos, museums and recreational facilities may open at 50% capacity, social gatherings of 250 people will be allowed and large venues may reopen with proper social distancing guidelines.

By July 4, the state hopes large events will be allowed, retail will be at full capacity and restrictions will be lifted at amusement parks and other large venues.

With the playgrounds at Brownstown Park, board member Paula Workman asked if park employees will have to disinfect the equipment, and if so, how many times a day. Wheeler said he’s not sure how workers could disinfect every piece of equipment and also the park’s restrooms multiple times a day when they have other tasks they need to do.

Board member Kevin Hanner, who also is the park superintendent, said police officers had taped off the playgrounds in March when the pandemic began, but the tape wound up getting removed. Hanner said it’s not his place to tell people not to use the playground equipment because officers are responsible for enforcing the park rules.

Wheeler said he has driven by the park multiple times and hasn’t witness people gathering in large groups.

The park’s indoor shelter house also will have restrictions. The board agreed to allow no more than 25 people inside after May 24, and they should practice social distancing. Hanner said the shelter house has 18 tables and nearly 80 chairs.

During Monday night’s Brownstown Town Council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said the shelter house had been booked May 23 for a birthday party with no more than 15 people. The park board, however, agreed that will have to be moved to another date.

“I hate to open this up before everything else is,” Wheeler said of the indoor shelter house.

Willey said the facility also has been rented for May 30 and 31.

Town attorney Travis Thompson said when Willey talks to people about shelter house rental, he can explain the guidelines in place or provide a copy to them.

Also in the park, the Brownstown Pool has a tentative opening date of June 1. On Tuesday night, the park board and pool manager Jamie Temple discussed the topic for 45 minutes. In the end, they decided to have a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the indoor shelter house to make a final decision on the pool.

With Brownstown Town Hall, the building remains closed to the public, but Willey said people can drop off utility bill payments in the drop box in the foyer or call to arrange pickup of paperwork.

The move to the new town building on Cross Street, which will house the town hall and police department and be the new location for town meetings, is set for May 15. The council agreed it wants to give the public an opportunity to tour the building, but it might be best to wait until the first meeting in June and offer tours before and after the meeting.

By that time, the council hopes to be able to resume in-person meetings. They recently have been conducted via Zoom.

“That might be worth waiting just a little bit for,” Councilwoman Sharon Koch said. “I’d like more people to come see it and appreciate it.”

The council recently approved its final payments to the contractor, Goecker Construction Inc. of Seymour. Then during Monday’s meeting, payments of $42,567 to S and J Excavation and Concrete of Brownstown for concrete and drainage work and $51,588.65 to Bedford Office Supply Inc. of Bedford for furniture were approved.