MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) announced Friday their plans to modify or close more of its park amenities for the safety of park visitors due to COVID-19.
The park modifications are expected to be completed by May 1. This will include playgrounds, skateparks and athletic fields to close, tennis court and volleyball nets to be removed and basketball court rims to be blocked or removed.
With warm weather right around the corner, signage will soon be added at picnic areas to limit gatherings of up to 10 people or less. Signage will be also be added to disc golf areas with social distancing guidelines — similar to those guidelines put in place at MPRB golf courses.
Two weeks ago, the MPRB launched its “do your part” campaign, which aimed at having park visitors practice social distancing to avoid closures and modifications. The MPRB said that despite efforts to educate and encourage social distancing, the lack of compliance from the community led them to take action.
“From the beginning, we have been following the guidelines of public health experts. We’re taking this necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of residents and their families,” said MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura. “We have put a lot of effort into educating and encouraging social distancing, but we continue to see park visitors gathering during this national health crisis.”
Hunter Moss and his friends are soaking up the final week of Brackett Park in South Minneapolis being open.
“Try to come out once or twice a week, hit the ball around,” Moss said. This Friday all of the courts, athletic fields and skateboard park are closing at Brackett Park.
“It’s really disappointing,” Moss said, “I feel like if there’s a sport where it’s pretty easy to play with social distancing in mind, it’s tennis.”
On Saturday, a week before everything closes in Minneapolis, the basketball court was crowded with players doing a pick up game.
“I really don’t know what to really do if it is closed I mean I want to be outside, it’s finally getting nicer,” Dan Zambrano said.
Elliot Park is a more popular skateboard park in downtown Minneapolis.
“I’m guilty too,” said skateboarder Josiah Clarke, “It’s definitely not a good thing that I’m congregating with this many people.”
The skateboarders still plan on doing what they love after May 1, just not at Elliot Park.
“We still go street skating, so we can still skate board, it’s just not a skate park,” Clarke said.
Moss and his friends hope to find tennis courts still open in other cities.
“The fact that that’s being taken away kind of limits out options now,” Moss said.
St. Paul basketball and tennis courts and playgrounds are already closed. Each city is making individual decisions on keeping these outdoor spaces open or not during the stay at home order.