MILTON, Ga. — Milton announced Friday that some of its parks facilities will reopen Saturday, May 9. Many of the city’s active park spaces have been shut down since March 25.

The facilities coming that will open for public use include; Bell Memorial Park’s six fields, playground and bathrooms; the playground at Bethwell Community Center (the building remains closed); the bathrooms and playground at Broadwell Pavilion; the Cox Road athletic center’s fields and bathrooms; the bathrooms and tennis courts at the former Milton Country Club; the three gates around Friendship Community Park.

A statement from Mayor Joe Lockwood said the reopening of facilities is being done “responsibly and methodically,” and because the city recognizes the benefits of outside activities.

“Any phased reopening will only succeed with the public’s full cooperation,” the statement said.

Lockwood outlined some precautions park visitors should take, including bringing a filled water bottle because fountains will not be operating. He also stressed staying at least 6 feet apart, to avoid congregating, washing hands thoroughly, to avoid touching your hands or face and those who feel ill should stay home.

Lockwood said playgrounds will be disinfected twice a day.

Organized sports remain prohibited and the city will not be renting out its fields.

Lockwood said the city can potentially move to the “next phase” of opening with positive trends in COVID-19 statistics and if people continue social distancing.

The trails at Bell Memorial Park, Birmingham Park and Providence Park will continue to remain open.

Below is the full May 8 statement from Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood:

Like the rest of Georgia and the country, Milton still faces serious challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, there have been positive signs of late on everything from trends in new cases to much more available testing. Progress -- even if it's not complete, as this virus has not gone away -- leads to opportunity. This is why Gov. Kemp announced the first steps in his plan to bring some semblance of normalcy back to Georgia. And it's why Milton will do the same. Effective on Saturday, May 9, the City will reopen "active" components of our parks. This will be done thoughtfully, responsibly and methodically. And it's being done in large part because we recognize the benefits of being outside and active for our citizens' health.   

Any phased reopening will only succeed with the public's full cooperation. I cannot stress this latter point enough: Every visitor to our parks shoulders responsibility for not only their health and safety, but the health and safety of those around them. It is critical that anyone going to our parks follows proper safety protocols. That is the only way we'll be able to successfully keep our parks open.

Assuming this does happen, what exactly will change in Milton? Here's a rundown:

  • Bell Memorial Park's six fields and playground will open, and its bathrooms will be unlocked.
  • The playground at Bethwell Community Center will be available for use, even if the building itself remains closed.
  • People can once again use the bathrooms and playground at Broadwell Pavilion.
  • The Cox Road athletic facility's fields and bathrooms will be unlocked and ready to use.
  • The bathrooms and tennis courts at the former Milton Country Club will open. The pool remains closed to the public until further notice.
  • All three gates around Friendship Community Park will reopen.

As a reminder, the "passive" trails at Bell, Birmingham and Providence parks are open for walking and running -- just like they always have been.

It's important to recognize that we are not yet returning to business as usual. While lifting the "shelter-in-place" mandate, the Governor has ordered Georgians continue "social distancing" through at least May 13. It's very possible that guidance will extend beyond that date, perhaps well into the summer and beyond. There are still a lot of unknowns with COVID-19; what we do know is that it is contagious and has not disappeared in Georgia. So we have to be smart and sensitive not just to our own needs and risks but to those of others in our community.

This is why I am strongly urging citizens to be knowledgeable and to take extra precautions while at the park. This means:

  • Bring a filled water bottle. You shouldn't share bottles or eating utensils. For safety reasons, water fountains will be shut off.
  • Do not congregate, staying at least six feet from anyone not from your household. Especially avoid unnecessary physical contact, including things like high-fives.
  • Wash our hands often and well -- at least 20 seconds is highly      recommended -- with soap.
  • Don't touch your face or mouth.
  • And if you're not feeling well, please do not come to a park or, if you're already at one, head home.

The City will go above-and-beyond as well. We'll disinfect our playgrounds twice a day at Bell and once a day at Bethwell and Broadwell Pavilion, on top of our regular thorough cleanings. We've ordered sanitizer in addition to stocking bathrooms with soap. And we will have many signs up to remind people of what we all need to do.

For now, any organized sports on our City parks remain prohibited. We are still not renting out our facilities. Still, if all goes well -- if people continue "social distancing" and if we see positive trends in COVID-19 statistics -- we can move to the next phase. We don't have a timetable for that yet, though. And it is too important we get this right, for the sake of our citizens' health and safety.

These last few months have been tough for everyone. But I cannot tell you how proud I've been of Milton's residents as well as our businesses. We have stepped up and done what is necessary for everyone's well-being. None of this has been easy. But we can and will get through this -- especially if we work together.

(1) comment

EECT

I'm concerned about whether it is safe to open playgrounds -- especially as we are learning that COVID-19 is effecting children.

1) How do you get children to maintain 6' social distancing on a play structure?

2) Any child could be carrying the virus. So, technically, wouldn't the only way to be safe would be to disinfect after every child. (Not remotely practical.)

3) It is probably safe, but if you disinfect a playground TWICE A DAY with a disinfectant strong enough to kill COVID-19, will children be at risk by exposure to high use of the disinfectant?

4) Has NRPA made any comment as to whether face masks on children on a play structure are a chocking hazzard or not?

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