Parks Department Plan to Reopen, Resume Activities

 In Press

By Eric Ditmars, Superintendent, Auburn Parks and Recreation

Earlier this spring, the Parks Department shifted how we deliver recreational programs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Indiana focused on reopening the state in measured steps, we’re slowly shifting back, as well as continuing some of the new things we’ve put in place. Like always, our goal remains the same: provide experiences that are informative, fun and engaging.

We’ve laid out a plan—recently approved by the Parks and Recreation Board—to slowly reintroduce some of our services and programs. Keep in mind, though, that since this situation is still fluid, we may adjust our plans if necessary. We want you to come out and enjoy the parks and participate in our programming, but to be safe while doing so.

Below are key points from the Parks Department’s reopening plan, with each step shaped by the Indiana Back on Track five-stage plan.

Indiana Back on Track Stage What Occurs with City Parks, Facilities and Programming
Stage 2 – Began on May 4
  • The Parks Office open to public—phone and email correspondence encouraged when possible.
  • Restrooms at Eckhart Park, Rieke Park, Smith Acres, Memorial Park and Thomas Park are open and being cleaned/disinfected once daily.
  • Public green spaces and the trail system open, with social distancing encouraged.
  • Parks programs continue to be delivered virtually.
Stage 3 – Scheduled for May 24
  • Pavilions and shelters open at Memorial Park, Eckhart Park, Smith Acres, Rieke Park, Riley Park and Desoto Park.
  • All playground equipment reopened, including tennis/pickle ball courts, basketball courts and swings.
  • Rieke Lodge and Eckhart Park enclosed pavilions open to groups not exceeding the gathering size specified in the executive order. Facilities are cleaned/disinfected before/after each rental. (See section on rentals below.)
Stage 4 – Scheduled for June 14
  • Youth and adult softball/baseball programs resume at Rieke Park and all other City of Auburn parks. Additional league imposed participant/spectator restrictions are implemented as necessary.
  • Restrooms cleaned/disinfected once prior to the games, then closed again after games.
  • The Adult Softball League follows established procedures and requirements for games (i.e., no more than 4 batters in dugout, closed bleachers, hand sanitizer at concessions).
  • In-person, outdoor programming for adults and youth resumes, with social distancing guidelines in place.
  • Outside youth day camps held, following CDC guidance. (See section on summer camps below.)
Stage 5 – Scheduled for July 4
  •  In-person, inside programing resumes with strict limitations on size and social distancing practices.
  • Large events sponsored by the Parks Department resume, with social distancing guidelines and additional safety measures in place.

As part of our effort to help protect the public, we are cleaning/disinfections parks restrooms daily. Additionally, we are installing hand sanitizing stations at Rieke Lodge and in the Parks Office.

We’ve adapted our summer camps to fit the protocol, while still allowing opportunities for kids to learn, create, explore and grow.

Rieke Lodge and Eckhart Park enclosed pavilions will open to groups at Stage 3 of the Indiana Back on Track plan. Groups are not allowed to exceed the gathering size specified in the executive order. Facilities are cleaned and disinfected before and after each rental. Additionally, we ask that you practice good hygiene and consider wearing masks where appropriate.

Be on the lookout for new social distancing signage in the parks. We hope these will be a friendly reminder as more of us seek to be outside and enjoy our parks. Remember, playgrounds remain closed until Stage 3. After that point, when using the playgrounds, we encourage physical distancing and rigorous personal hygiene.

Our staff has done a great job of quickly moving our programming online, so we can continue to provide engaging opportunities for physical activity and learning. While we will slowly reintroduce in-person programming (see Stages 4 and 5 above), we will also continue virtual programming for the foreseeable future. You can subscribe to all of our online programming on the Auburn Parks and Recreation YouTube Channel.

We are continually assessing our programming as well as our procedures for operating Parks facilities and grounds. While we have a plan for moving forward, we also remain flexible so that we can quickly adjust as this situation evolves. Ultimately, our goal is to be prudent in our actions, so we can protect the health and well-being of our community and of our staff.

We look forward to seeing you in our fantastic parks and on the trails throughout our City!

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