Local parks, COVID-19, and you

Julie Reichle

Dogs and people enjoying the sunshine in Piedmont Park

Nancy Kent, Piedmont’s parks and project manager, told the Park Commission Wednesday that Piedmonters have generally been understanding and cooperative about following park rules in the COVID-19 era. That means wearing masks, keeping socially distanced, refraining from congregating in groups and no sports involving multiple players and shared equipment.

But Kent said she experienced one incident of pushback during a recent visit to Dracena Quarry Park, where she found a dog off leash, and a growling owner.

“He stated that his dog was not spreading COVID, and walked away from me,” with his dog running free, Kent said.

She said she has been asked a number of times why dogs, during the pandemic, can’t run off-leash in parks that usually allow it. The answer, she said, is that the Alameda County health order doesn’t allow off-leash dog parks to be open. Piedmont’s Linda Dog Park, as a consequence, is still closed. 

The city decided that because the off-leash portions of Dracena, Piedmont and Blair Parks are part of what Kent described as “people parks,” that dogs were allowed in those parks, but only on leash.

Public Works Director Chester Nakahara said he doesn’t think any loosening of restrictions is imminent, as Alameda County remains in Phase 2 of reopening. With new COVID-19 cases increasing, as expected, after the Phase 2 changes, Nakahara said, “Right now, they’re loathe to move on to Phase 3.”

Kent praised city crews and contracted landscapers for putting up 150 barricades and two miles of yellow caution tape to close the parks April 1, and remove all of that again May 5 — performing both operations in one day each.

Pickleball has since resumed on the PMS courts with social distancing regulations observed, and Kent says basketball will resume soon, when protocols for play are worked out. Singles tennis play on the courts has been ok’ed but doubles are still out until further notice.

Contact Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com

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