Report by Paula Antolini, March 27, 2020, 7:59PM EDT
There have been questions as to whether or not parks and other areas are open in Bethel.
We spoke to First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker and he said the following parks and other areas are OPEN dawn to sunset (by ordinance) for walking and hiking: Meckauer Park, Franc Preserve, Bennett Park (does not include renting the Pavillion), the BHS Track.
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Knickerbocker said the following areas are CLOSED:
Play Equipment and Playing Fields (like softball, etc.), Parloa Park, Indoor Bethel High School Track.
Knickerbocker said anyone seeing people in closed parks or other closed areas should report it to Bethel Police.
Please note: Executive Order No. 7N issued by Governor Ned Lamont states:
“Restricts all social and recreational gatherings to no more than five people: The order modifies the governor’s earlier executive order placing limits on the amount of people who can participate in social and recreational gatherings and reduces that number to no more than five people, through at least April 30, 2020 unless otherwise modified. This order includes, but is not limited to, community, civic, leisure, or sporting events; parades; concerns; festivals; plays or live performances; conventions and similar activities; except that religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings will remain subject only to the prohibition of 50 persons or more. This does not apply to government operations, private workplaces, retail establishments, or other activities that are not social or recreational gatherings.”
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A letter was issued on March 27, 2020 by Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools and Eileen Earl, Bethel Director of Parks and Recreation. The letter reads in part:
“Effective immediately, all school athletic fields, town and school basketball courts, playgrounds and tennis courts,, will now be closed to the public. The outside track and public trails will remain open. People are still able to talk walks in the educational park. Again, please do not gather in groups of more than 5 people.”
Collis P. Huntington State Park
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) COVID-19 UPDATE: The trails and grounds of Connecticut State Parks and Forests are open for solitary outdoor enjoyment. If you plan to visit a park, it should be for solitary recreation, not group activities. Please plan ahead as many amenities and indoor facilities are closed, and visitors must practice social distancing.
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Connecticut State Parks and Forests COVID-19 Updates
Governor Lamont is urging all Connecticut residents to “Stay Safe, Stay Home” to help minimize community spread of COVID-19. The trails and grounds of Connecticut State Parks and Forests are open for solitary outdoor enjoyment. If you plan on visiting a park, it should be for solitary recreation, not group activities. Please plan ahead as many amenities and indoor facilities are closed, and visitors are encouraged to follow these guidelines to enhance social distancing:
Reducing community spread of coronavirus is imperative, and DEEP asks visitors to Connecticut State Parks and Forests to take the following steps to enhance “social distancing” when enjoying the outdoors.
- If you’re not feeling well, stay home!Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
- Rather than traveling to some of the most popular spots, for example, Hammonasset Beach State Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, or Bluff Point State Park, try a park you may not have visited before or one close to your home. Because most park and forest facilities do not have open restrooms, visitors are encouraged to plan a trip to a nearby park for a short, local visit.
- If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, choose a different park or trail, or return another day or time.
- Observe the CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people, whether you’re walking, biking, or hiking. Practice it and know what it looks like.
- Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell, or horn.
- Follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to the park. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and equipment.
- Bring water or drinks. Public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable.
- Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers.
Access, Amenities, and Changes to Operations:
Entrance Fees: All state parks can be accessed by Connecticut residents free of charge, supported by the Passport to Parks program.
Park Closures: DEEP will be monitoring visitor capacity at the state’s most popular parks and may reduce the parking threshold to further limit the number of visitors and help to prevent overcrowding. For up-to-date information on park closures, follow @CTStateParks on Twitter.
Restrooms: To prevent community spread of COVID-19, indoor spaces at State Parks and Forests are closed. Public restrooms will be closed at most state parks. Be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
Indoor & Outdoor Facilities: DEEP’s indoor spaces, museums, nature centers, and most bathroom facilities are closed to prevent community spread of COVID-19. DEEP is identifying specific locations and features within parks and forests where people tend to congregate, such as observation towers and picnic pavilions, and will limit access to those structures. Please use your judgment in avoiding spaces where 10 or more people are gathered and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
Camping: The opening of camping season at Connecticut State Parks and Forests will be postponed until Memorial Day weekend in May, unless a further delay is required. All campground reservations that were made for stays prior to Memorial Day weekend will automatically be cancelled and refunds will be processed.
Classes: In-person environmental education programming, including Conservation Education and Firearms Safety and Aquatic Resource Education classes, have been temporarily halted, but on-line education opportunities will continue.DEEP will be closely monitoring state and federal guidelines for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and will make further adjustments to state park and forest operations as needed. More tips for safe enjoyment of outdoor spaces are available from the National Recreation and Parks Association at www.nrpa.org. Please visit: Connecticut State Parks, follow us on Twitter @CTDEEPNEWS and @CTStateParks, and facebook.com/CTStateParks.