Aera Soccer Park in King City is one of the city’s parks that reopened on March 15. As state restrictions ease, the city has reopened its sports fields, picnic areas and restrooms. Those visiting city parks are asked to continue following health guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Large gatherings are also prohibited. (Sean Roney/Staff)

MONTEREY COUNTY — City parks throughout Monterey County have begun to reopen due to the lessening of health restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gonzales Recreation Department announced the reopening of its parks by March 12. The announcement followed a March 1 reopening of the Central Park and Meyer Park playground areas.

“Staff has been working on a plan for reopening for several weeks,” said Sara Papineau, the city’s recreation coordinator. “It was presented to the city council and they went along with staff recommendation.”

The efforts began at Central and Meyer parks, where Papineau said the city reopened the playgrounds by removing the fences around play equipment, then proceeded to reopen the open spaces around those playgrounds.

Now, not only are the playgrounds and open spaces back in operation, but also bathrooms are available to the public. Venice Park, Centennial Park and Canyon Creek Tot Lot join Meyer and Central in the reopened roster.

“The only thing we’re not open for at this point is park reservations,” Papineau said.

She explained while families may hold small gatherings of 10 or fewer people, spaces cannot be reserved and mixed household or large gatherings are not allowed.

With regional and local Covid-19 infection numbers on the decline, area jurisdictions have been reopening public spaces.

“We see people wanting to get out and about and have spaces,” Papineau said. “It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep them closed with the numbers dropping the way they were.” She added, “We want people to get out and about when they can and when it’s safe to do so.”

New cleaning processes have gone into effect in order to maintain public safety during an ongoing pandemic.

“We also have the staffing capability to make sure we’re cleaning them appropriately and disinfecting them appropriately,” Papineau said. “Once we moved into the ability to be able to do that, it was kind of a no brainer to open up.”

All tables and contact surface areas will be regularly sprayed down, with playgrounds in particular being sanitized once a day. Bathrooms will be cleaned in the morning and sanitized in the afternoon.

Papineau said prior health guidelines, such as social distancing and mask wearing, will still be in effect when people visit local parks.

“People will still be expected to follow the … guidelines that have been in place while they’re in the park,” she said.

Gonzales was followed by King City, which announced all of its parks would reopen on March 15. The city announced the same health guideline practices for the public as Gonzales, including a prohibition on any large gatherings.

Meanwhile, county parks, such as San Lorenzo Park in King City, have remained closed.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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