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Pickleball Players Can Return, Skaters Must Wait

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By Camille Sailer

PETERSBURG – Scott Morgan, Upper Township’s business manager and emergency management coordinator, discussed the use of municipal parks and fields at the Upper Township Committee meeting May 11. As a result, Committee members discussed what township recreational facilities can safely reopen under the governor’s various executive orders and which should remain closed.
“We’ve had all Upper parks and recreational facilities closed to best safeguard Upper Township’s residents and visitors during COVID, especially as the nice weather has drawn so many people outside. We’re getting a lot of inquiries as to when everyone can start to use our various facilities, so we need to consider which of these can now be opened that have remained closed for the 50-plus ‘stay-at-home’ days related to various executive orders,” Morgan said.
Committee member Hobie Young, who’s responsible for use and maintenance of township recreational facilities and activities, added, “Although we’re all devastated about the various cancellations we’ve had to make of much-loved and awaited events on our activity calendar, one bright note is that we’ve taken this opportunity to use to our advantage. We’re seeding these fields, doing maintenance that otherwise we could not do if they were in use by all the sports teams, and really making a huge effort to make sure these fields are in perfect shape when we can finally open up again, but many parents and the kids have approached me about when we’re going to open our facilities.”
“It’s very unfortunate, but the kids have even taken to climbing the very high chain link fencing around the skateboard park to use that facility, which has been locked for everyone’s safety,” Morgan added. “This is clear trespassing, and we have been having our public works staff keep an eye out. We may need to get the state police at the Woodbine Barracks to do a couple of drive-bys and talk to the violators.”
Young added, “We need to consider what happens if one of these kids, as will inevitably happen, gets hooked on the fencing or falls and breaks their neck or other injuries.”
“These kids, and we’ve even seen adults trespassing, are clearing violating the law,” Mayor Richard Palombo said, “but these issues bring up the matter that we should discuss what facilities we should start to open and which we should consider keeping closed.”
Committee then weighed the pros and cons of opening Upper’s various recreational facilities, with several members remarking that for tennis and pickleball, social distancing would be much easier to maintain, whereas, in contrast, skate park users would be congregating within a confined area and in great numbers.
“My feeling is that our courts are ready to go for pickleball and tennis, and that a maximum of four players would be on each court at any given time,” Palombo added. “We have signs up to maintain social distancing of six feet, and per the governor’s order, gatherings of fewer than 10 people is ok. At the skateboard park, large numbers of kids gather there, and they are in that enclosed space, so my recommendation is that we open our pickleball and tennis courts but keep the skateboard park closed.”
Committee agreed with Palombo’s reasoning and moved forward with action to open the pickleball and tennis courts, at Caldwell Park, while keeping Amanda’s Field and the skate park closed.
To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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