Three St. Louis County councilmen say seven parks can be reopened safely.
Three St. Louis County councilmen say the county should reopen seven of its parks "at the earliest possible date."
All of the county's 71 parks have been closed
since April 3, following an order from County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, who said it was a necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The council's three Republican members — Tim Fitch, Ernie Trakas and Mark Harder — sent a letter to Page on Monday, urging the county executive to open some of the county's largest parks.
"Enjoyment of these parks can be done in a responsible and safe manner," Trakas says in the letter.
The three called for reopening Jefferson Barracks as well as Queeny, St. Vincent, Creve Coeur, Greensfelder, Sioux Passage and Tillis parks — with restrictions. In their proposal, they recommend allowing groups of ten or fewer people to gather while keeping park shelters, athletic areas and playgrounds closed.
"We will focus on safety and protecting lives while restoring sensible access to St. Louis County parks in a responsible manner for the well-being of our residents," Harder says in the letter.
The current order is set to last until at least April 22. When first announcing the closures, Page and Parks Director Tim Ott said people had crowded into the parks, ignoring social distancing measures.
“This will help us save lives. That’s our top priority,” Page said in an April 2 news release. “I had hoped we could keep the parks open, but the spread of COVID-19 is too big of a threat to the health of our residents.”
More than 1,800 people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19, and 50 have died, according to county statistics updated this morning.
St. Louis city has closed roads
in several of its most-popular parks to discourage crowds but has allowed the parks to remain open for now. The county councilmen say the county's closures have pushed people to head to the city and municipal parks, concentrating more people in those spaces.
Fitch says the county should reopen a handful of its parks now and start making plans to open all parks within a month.
"Our overall goal is to see ALL the parks reopened by the middle of May or sooner," he says in the letter.
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