The Latest: City of Ann Arbor updates regarding park use for different amenities, facilities and programs

Last week Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (2020-59) through May 15, and updated language regarding allowable recreational activities. The Executive Order (EO) states that:

Individuals may leave their home or place of residence and travel as necessary:
(1) To engage in outdoor recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household. Outdoor recreational activity includes walking, hiking, running, cycling, boating, golfing, or other similar activity, as well as any comparable activity for those with limited mobility.

The EO also states that subject to the excepted recreational activities noted above, public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited. Additionally, individuals must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.

Staff have been working hard during this time to prioritize the safety of our community, support the EO, and look for ways within it to provide safe recreational opportunities we know the community desires and needs. Since the stay-at-home order was put in place Parks and Natural Areas have remained open but have been limited to activities that do not involve direct contact with others, such as walking, hiking, running, and cycling. The closure of many of our public park amenities and facilities has been necessary, but painful to execute, as staff in the Parks Department believe passionately in the ‘essentialness’ of the park system and the opportunities for health and well-being that it provides.

What follows is a listing of park facilities, programs, and amenities and their current status as allowed by the EO, along with other relevant information. In order to reopen, park facilities have many important tasks that can only be completed once nonessential work is once again permitted. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted significant preparatory work awaits, including: training seasonal staff, modifying operating procedures, pre-season maintenance repairs, and other operational duties. As activities are reintroduced, their success relies on the willingness of visitors and staff to follow current social distancing guidelines and identified best practices.
Enjoy the parks responsibly!

ATHLETIC FIELDS
Athletic fields for organized team sports such as baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse remain closed. Individuals of members of a same household may use fields for recreational activities. Staff will continue to evaluate the use of these amenities as social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations are updated and when the stay-at-home order is lifted or amended.

BASKETBALL COURTS
Use of the basketball courts that follows social distancing guidelines, such as shooting baskets individually or with members of the same household, is allowed beginning Friday, May 8. No team game play is allowed. Basketball courts will be signed to reflect this change.

BOATING – ARGO AND GALLUP CANOE LIVERIES
The EO allows for boating in personal kayaks, canoes and watercraft. Under the existing EO Argo and Gallup canoe liveries are not permitted to open. Staff are exploring operational changes that may enable the liveries to open in a modified manner later this summer.

BRYANT AND NORTHSIDE COMMUNITY CENTERS
Community Action Network operates these vital community centers on behalf of Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation. Both centers are open for essential services such as food distribution, hygiene product distribution, and educational home kits. At Bryant, food program participation has doubled. Nearly 1,000 families came through for groceries in April when the average is around 450-500. In the first four months of 2020, CAN has distributed about 6,000 meals at Bryant, which surpasses what was served at this location all of last fiscal year. CAN has also distributed a couple thousand educational kits and received/donated 200 arts and crafts kits from the Ann Arbor Art Center.

COBBLESTONE FARM
The Parks Customer Service remains closed, but staff are responding to emails and returning calls by working remotely. The public can contact Parks at Parks&Rec@a2gov.org or by calling 734.794.6230 and staff will respond to you as soon as possible. Rentals of Cobblestone Farm and special events in the Parks are currently closed. Customers may cancel existing reservations at no penalty. Staff will contact any existing reservations 60 days prior to their event and the social distancing guidelines in effect at that time will determine if the event may move forward. Contact staff at 734.794.6230 to discuss existing reservations or to ask questions about future dates.

DAY CAMPS
Staff are reviewing day camp procedures and working collaboratively with colleagues from across the profession to see if there is a safe, fun way to provide our day camps. Unfortunately, many departments across the country have already cancelled summer day camp. Staff hope to make a final decision on camps by mid-May. If camps are cancelled all registrants will receive a full refund.

DISC GOLF
The disc golf courses at Bandemer and Mary Beth Doyle Parks will reopen Friday, May 8, provided social distancing guidelines are followed.

DOG PARKS
Dog parks will reopen Friday, May 8, provided social distancing guidelines are followed. Visitors should wear gloves when entering and exiting at the admission gates.

FARMERS MARKET
Per the EO, farmers markets can operate and sell certain items, The Ann Arbor Farmers Market reopens Saturday, May 9 to provide essential food and other permitted items to customers. We are taking precautions to ensure staff, vendor and customer safety by opening with a phase 1 and phase 2 timeline. Phase 1 will include pre-order only with walk in or curbside pickup. Phase 2 will keep the first model but add on-site sales as well. Vendors will be spaced out within the market area per social distancing guidelines and signage will inform customers how to shop under these new guidelines.

FOOT GOLF – HURON HILLS
Foot Golf will be open, provided social distancing guidelines are followed, the week of May 18. Visitors must bring their own soccer ball.

GIVE365 PROGRAMS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
All events through May have been cancelled. Independent volunteer and household projects pre-approved by Adopt-A-Park can resume after May 1, provided they meet social distancing guidelines. Stay tuned for additional individual and household volunteer opportunities.

GOLF – HURON HILLS AND LESLIE PARK GOLF COURSES
Per the EO, golf is now a permitted recreational activity. Huron Hills and Leslie Park Golf courses opened for play on Friday, May 1. The clubhouses remain closed and golf carts are only available for disabled customers. New procedures are in place to facilitate social distancing and limit the potential of shared touch points. Additional information on new procedures can be found online.

NATURAL AREA PRESERVATION (NAP) PROGRAMS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
All events through May have been cancelled. Independent and household volunteer projects pre-approved by NAP can resume after May 1, provided they meet social distancing guidelines. Stay tuned for additional individual and household volunteer opportunities.

OUTDOOR POOLS – BUHR, FULLER & VETERANS MEMORIAL
Traditionally, the outdoor pools open Memorial Day Weekend. On April 30, Governor Whitmer passed Executive Order 2020-69 – Temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation. The Order closes “places of amusement” through May 28.

“Place of public amusement means a place of public accommodation that offers indoor services or facilities, or outdoor services or facilities involving close contact of persons, for amusement or other recreational or entertainment purposes. A place of public amusement includes an amusement park, arcade, bingo hall, bowling alley, indoor climbing facility, skating rink, trampoline park, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities.”

Due to both EO’s it will not be possible to open the pools on Memorial Day Weekend this year. Significant changes to social distancing and the ability for public gatherings to take place will have to occur for the outdoor pools to open safely. The level of public congregation that takes place at aquatic facilities and the number of staff required to operate these facilities will make it extremely difficult to open and manage them safely this summer. Some park departments across the country have already decided not to open their outdoor pools at all this season. Parks staff are participating in webinars, speaking to colleagues around the country, and working hard to investigate scenarios under which the pools could open safely at a later date. A further update on outdoor pools will be provided by May 20.

PLAYGROUNDS
Playgrounds remain closed. Staff will continue to evaluate the use of these amenities as social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations are updated and when the stay-at-home order is lifted or amended.

SENIOR CENTER
Under the current EO the Senior Center remains closed. Staff are exploring other ways to bring programs to members of the Senior Center. Staff will continue to evaluate reopening the Senior Center as social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations are updated and when the stay-at-home order is lifted or amended.

SHELTERS AND PAVILIONS
Shelters and pavilions remain closed. Staff will continue to evaluate the use of these amenities as social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations are updated and when the stay-at-home order is lifted or amended.

SKATEPARK
The Skatepark remains closed. Staff will continue to evaluate the use of this popular park as social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations are updated and when the stay-at-home order is lifted or amended, but at this time the congregating of crowds and multiple shared use touch points do not allow for its reopening.

TENNIS COURTS
Tennis courts across the park system are reopening. Staff will be reinstalling tennis nets at courts and hope to have them in place by Friday, May 8. Tennis and pickleball play can resume, provided social distancing guidelines are followed, but no doubles play is allowed.