As the summer months begin, 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, majority of Cheshire’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 did say that he plans on having a physical meeting at Mixville Park on July 8 in order to address its possible reopening. He mentioned that there are “a number of factors and things to take a look at” before the park can fully be open to the public.
Gawlak also stated that the majority of the playgrounds are open, but have signs announcing “use at your own risk” due to the pandemic.
“We can’t be sanitizing the playgrounds all day everyday,” Gawlak added. “But Bartlem did get some new Kids In Motion playground equipment, which will be installed by the end of [last] week .”
The Cheshire Community Pool, which suffered a small setback when the Aquatics Director, Shelia Adams discovered multiple tears in the liner, is also open with a brand new pool liner.
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 remarked.
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 out by the Centers for Disease Control as well as Chesprocott.
“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.”