Christina Estes / KJZZ
Children playing football at Encanto Park in Phoenix before COVID-19.
People will soon be able to play soccer, softball and football in the parks of the city of Phoenix.
For six months, nearly 170 fields have been closed to the public. At the request of board members Thelda Williams, Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio, the Parks and Recreation Department presented a plan to reopen on Wednesday evening.
Acting manager Tracee Hall said the city will not restart its sports leagues, but outside groups that follow CDC recommendations will be able to reserve pitches.
“Each team or organization will agree to monitor its training and matches itself. This process will be enhanced by having a compliance person on site, ”she said. “In addition, we have rovers who visit several sites in the park during their shift. They will observe games and practices and see if security measures are in place. “
She said Phoenix is the only city in Arizona that hasn’t opened up outdoor fields for organized sports. It will take about a week for staff to put things in order.
City councilor Carlos Garcia and vice-mayor Betty Guardado voted against the reopening. They wanted more time for public health experts to review and approve the plan, as well as time to educate the public. Guardado said she understood the frustration and stress of families, but was “very nervous” because her district includes two zip codes with the highest COVID-19 cases.
But Williams, Waring, and DiCiccio stressed that kids need to be outside to exercise and socialize. Williams said she probably gets around 100 emails a week from people asking when Phoenix will reopen city parks.
“I think it’s about time and people can take their pick,” Waring said.
City Councilor Michael Nowakowski said children were already using the fields without social distancing: “We need to take control of the parks now and not in a month. “
City Councilor Laura Pastor expressed concern about how often the washrooms will be cleaned. Staff will research costs and options to increase cleanups and share the information during Tuesday’s policy session.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Hall said the department would meet the requirements of its field permit guidelines, including:
- A commitment from teams and the organization to follow guidelines and restrictions.
- A commitment to educate parents and coaches of guidelines and restrictions.
- Spectators, officials and coaches must wear masks.
- Physical distancing will be encouraged unless spectators are from the same household
- Six feet of distance will be maintained between the sports field and the spectators
- Implement a modified schedule allocation to include time for any cleaning required between uses and reduce the potential for overcrowding.
Information released by the Phoenix Department of Parks on September 3
Organizations and teams participating in activities on these grounds will be required to follow various security procedures; including the wearing of a mask or face covering by spectators, officials and coaches; maintain six feet between the field and the spectators; and limit the number of participants on a field to 48 young people or 24 adults. The schedule will take into account the time needed to clean between reservations and reduce potential congestion.
Organizations and teams will agree to self-monitor and have a designated compliance officer on site. Phoenix Parks and Recreation staff will also monitor activity at these sites, as they provide roaming surveillance at various parks.
Phoenix public parks, trails and golf courses have remained open throughout the pandemic, but some outdoor recreational facilities are temporarily closed until further notice as city staff and city council continue to monitor measurements of positive COVID-19 cases.
The amenities of the closed city park include:
- Toilets (in a park that does not have a reversible sports field)
- Play ground
- Basketball and volleyball courts
- Fitness equipment
- Picnic tables
- Encanto and Rose Mofford Sports Complexes
Detailed information on the city’s outdoor recreation options and free virtual recreation programs can be found at Phoenix.gov/Parcs.