Coweta County reopened most areas of its parks, effective Monday, although sports facilities and washrooms are closed.
In addition, the Coweta County Recreation Department’s summer day camp has been officially canceled.
The opening applies to hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic shelters, outdoor grounds and green spaces. Restrooms, sports fields, outdoor water fountains and all indoor facilities remain closed until further notice.
No organized activity will be allowed in the parks, including sporting practices or related events, and anyone using the parks must follow state guidelines for social distancing.
There cannot be a gathering of more than 10 people in one place, unless everyone can stay at least 6 feet from each other at all times. Anyone in breach will be asked to leave, county officials said.
Coweta recreation director Jim Gay said his department was working on some things that would help with good hygiene, including trying to get hand sanitizer dispensers in high-use areas. Until these dispensers are installed, visitors are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer or other sanitizer.
Departmental retail teams will continue to monitor all park amenities and perform regular cleaning, but no additional cleaning or disinfection will be implemented. “The nature of the playground equipment makes it very difficult to keep germ free,” Gay said.
This is why they ask people to follow directions, including good hygiene and to refrain from using park facilities if they are feeling unwell or showing symptoms of a cold or flu.
Those using the parks or trail systems are asked to warn others of their presence and to withdraw to let others pass.
Although sports fields are closed as sports leagues are all currently canceled, there are plenty of open spaces where people can kick, dribble, or throw a ball, although pickup games are discouraged.
New ready-to-use equipment
The ministry recently worked on a few new projects that people might not have seen because the parks have been closed.
One of the three tennis courts at the Temple Avenue complex has been transformed into a pair of pickleball courts. And the underutilized Clay Wood Center tennis courts have been converted to a second basketball court.
Western Park on Dixon Road has undergone major construction and is now an open field with a baseball net.
“It was an old baseball field with ruined bleachers,” Gay said. It was all demolished, including all the fences except the safety net. The project is not quite finished, there is still some cosmetic work to be done. The tennis courts are also being rehabilitated, and there will be parking improvements in the near future, Gay said.
Work on the Brown’s Mill Battlefield Park bike lanes continues, and the newer trails could open as early as early June. “We have good things to come,” Gay said.
Write the book as you go
Gay and his team were working on big projects during the winter, with a lot to look forward to. The county recently changed the rules to allow tournaments to be held at county facilities. One had been detained and a second was imminent when the COVID-19 emergency struck and everything was closed.
“These are different times,” Gay said. “I always tell people throughout this process, often when you face something that is not typical, you can look back and see how people have handled this stuff in the past – their guidelines. and procedures. For that, we do not have any. We are writing the book as we go, ”he said. “It was a really unique process. A lot of our decisions and a lot of things we do come from the review of other entities, other departments. ”
Gay said they get a lot of advice from the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association. He said that at the start of the shutdowns, he emailed all GRPA members to start a discussion, so everyone could stay in touch.
Trails and footpaths in various county parks have not closed and they have been popular.
Brown’s Mill, in particular, is widely used.
“Before all of that, we always thought it was an underused park. I think that has changed a lot during that time, ”Gay said. The park is large with winding paths, and people can get out and enjoy nature without being surrounded by other people.
New programs and a new appreciation
Gay said he believes the current crisis has shown people more of what Coweta County has to offer when it comes to the outdoors. And he thinks that in the future people may realize how important parks and recreation are. “It’s kind of a glow in the dark,” he said.
Gay said the department is still working on future plans to open indoor facilities.
They are also working on new types of programs, such as challenges that people can participate in individually. “And Brown’s Mill, I think, is going to be our entry park for these programs,” he said. They plan to award medals or small trophies to those who successfully complete the challenges.
And if these new programs take off, they could become something that will continue even after life is back to normal.
Coweta County recently launched its new online registration and information site for the Recreation Department at https://secure.rec1.com/GA/coweta-county-ga/catalog .
Gay encourages those interested in the Coweta County Recreation Department to visit the site and create an account. “Even those who might only go to Brown’s Mill for a hike or a walk in Central Park,” he said. Registrations on the new site will also be used as a communication tool with users of the department.
Gay became director in March 2019 and said there was a lot of positive momentum in the department.
“It’s just a speed bump,” he said. “On behalf of my staff, one thing I have learned is the passion they have for what they do, because they are scrambling to come back there and run their programs,” a- he declared. “I think there will be a lot of things, once we get through this whole situation, that a lot of us maybe enjoy more than before. I think recreational sports and recreational activities will be part of it. ”