A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why Albany playgrounds remain off limits

Written June 8th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The playground at Eads Park in the Willamette Neighborhood had acquired new tape on June 6.

Whether it makes sense to us or not, Albany has no choice but to keep barring children — and anyone else — from the play equipment in the city’s parks.

In recent weeks the yellow “caution” or pink “danger/peligro” tape at some playgrounds had become tattered or disappeared. But last week it seemed to have been restrung just as Linn and Benton counties were entering Phase 2 of lessened restrictions in the coronavirus crisis.

So what’s going on?

“Unfortunately,” Albany Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane explains, “playgrounds are specifically called out in Phase II sector guidelines to stay closed.  They are to stay closed as they are an area prone to attracting crowds, it is difficult to have kiddos physically distance, and the area can’t be disinfected after each playtime. We were hoping they would get cleared in Phase II but sadly it looks like they are going to stay closed across the state at this time.”

The Oregon Health Authority came out with new “guidance” for outdoor recreation organizations on June 4. In the corona era, “guidance” is the new word for “orders,” it appears. And under these orders, public parks are required to, among other things, “keep day use areas prone to attracting crowds closed, including but not limited to playgrounds, picnic shelters, water parks and pools, and sports courts for contact sports like basketball.”

Crowds? That concept hardly applies to playgrounds in Albany city parks. But state orders don’t allow for such distinctions.

Apparently the tape alone has not been enough to keep children from climbing on the equipment.

“In the upcoming week you may see some additional fencing go up to remind folks to stay off the structures,” Lyddane told me in an email this morning. “The caution tape and signage get removed regularly, and our staff can’t keep up with the monitoring in addition to all of their mounting duties. Because of this we need to find better ways to signal the structures are still closed in Phase II.”

Do playgrounds in public parks play a significant role in the spread of Covid-19? The state officials in charge of “guidance” evidently think they do. (hh)

The tape at Eads Park was reinforced with the message on a sign.

15 responses to “Why Albany playgrounds remain off limits”

  1. thomas cordier says:

    It is time to ignore this B.S. and dare them to arrest you. I think our PD will ignore because no protesters w/o masks were troubled. Courts will throw it out anyway.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The tone of your article constitutes verbal bullying of people who feel emotionally and physically safe inside the warm blanket of the Governor’s order.

    Being critical of government makes these people feel physically endangered. I DEMAND that you conform to their feelings.

    Admit that your words are violence.

    Safetyism trumps free speech. Retract this article NOW.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Well, if this was the NY Times, I’d have to. But since it, obviously, isn’t …

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Written from a position of ultimate privilege by a rich (by Albany standards), white, straight, abled, educated, adult male. You clearly benefit by being on the dominant side of the power system.

        But given your advanced age, I grant that you may be a victim of ageism from time to time. So strike “adult”, if applicable.

        It’s not just the intent of your words, but also the impact. They are violent. Without lock-downs and taped-off playgrounds, 60 million more people would have died by now according to experts.

        Retract, I say, retract….

      • H. R. Richner says:

        Thank you, Hasso, for being one of the very few sane media left. Your reporting feels like fresh air, outside the current collective irrationality.

  3. Joy says:

    Actually playgrounds specifically opened in phase 2 under outdoor recreation.

  4. Jon M. says:

    Reasons why playground equipment use should be allowed:

    The CDC says it’s highly unlikely for SARS-COV-2 transfers on surfaces, outside and when temperatures are above 75 degrees.

    The WHO reported today that asymptotic people rarely transfer the virus too.

    You should have asked these questions during the interview. Maybe ask the Governor’s office.

    • Becky says:

      I would not cite the WHO in your reasoning. Fauci has disagreed with the WHO on asymptomatic spread.

  5. Lauren says:

    But we can go to enclosed areas like grocery stores and now clothing stores ‍♀️

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Probably because an enclosed area is easier to nominally enforce social-distancing…

  6. thomas cordier says:

    Now CDC says virus can’t be passed from non-symptomatic persons

    • centrist says:

      That indication was based on a small dataset.
      Hope it is valid. 100-odd asymptomatic cases in Newport bears watching

  7. Kelly says:

    I can suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry. I see all sides to this.

  8. A resident says:

    Fauci worked for Reagan when HIV was announced and said a vaccine was two years away then. It is now 36 years later and no vaccine is available. Governor Brown needs to hear that Oregon cannot remain in phase 2 for years or decades. Playgrounds need to reopen now.


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