BRISTOL – The City of Bristol Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services has announced
status updates on parks, facilities, programs and services.
The following amenities are currently open for public use: walking trails, open spaces, mountain bike trails, dog parks, tennis courts, disc golf course, and fishing ponds. The Veterans Memorial Boulevard remains closed to passive use over the Memorial Day Weekend, with a full reopening to traffic on Tuesday, May 26.
“The city parks remain open to the public but guests are strongly advised to practice social distancing, travel with members of your immediate household and in groups of no more than five,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. “We are expecting beautiful weather this weekend and an uptick of activity in the park. If you arrive and a park area is crowded or becomes crowded we encourage you to travel to another park or come back at a later time.”
The following park amenities remain closed with tentative plans to re-open June 20, pending further guidance from the state: volleyball courts, basketball courts, Skate Park, athletic fields, playgrounds and playscapes.
Park pavilions may be requested through bristolrec.com for dates after June 20, 2020 for group gatherings under 50 people. Pavilions may be rented for groups of fewer than 100 in late July/early August pending phase 3 re-opening.
“In light of the latest guidelines for re-opening the state we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to re-open the Dennis Malone Aquatics Center, Rockwell Park Pool, splash parks and other park amenities on or around June 20,” said
Superintendent of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services Joshua Medeiros.
Aquatics Supervisor Jaimie Clout is developing modifications to the operating protocols for the pool in conjunction with the Bristol-Burlington Health Department who has purview over allowing the pools to open. Page Park Pool construction experienced delays in light of Covid-19 and it is unclear at this time whether the pool will be able to open this summer.
“We are optimistic that we could have an abbreviated season or soft opening for the new pool later in the summer,” said Clout.
Many department services have continued to be offered in a virtual format since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, this includes virtual alternative recreation classes, virtual youth service groups, counseling and community service assistance. Department staff are hard at work developing what is expected to be a modified summer program offering. The state has deemed summer camps an essential service and the department’s camps will begin June 29, 2020 under the guidance of the Office of Early Childhood in conjunction with the Bristol-Burlington Health District and the Bristol Board of Education. Registration for the program begins Wednesday, May 27 for Bristol residents.
Recreation Supervisor Jessie Caetaano is in the process of finalizing safety protocols and modifications to the program that align with state guidelines. A full release of those policies and procedures will be coming in the next few weeks.
Decisions on several popular summer programs and events remain undetermined pending further guidance from state and local health officials. This includes youth service group programs, swimming lessons, Splash Swim Team, social travel programs, Neon Nights, Pooch Plunge and more. Staff are working on alternative ways to offer the Annual Fishing Derby, Bristol Green Team, and Summer Concerts including the potential for ticketed and live streaming options to comply with the state’s 50 person maximum for gatherings.
The All Heart Pop-Up Parks funded by the Main Street Community Foundation Broad View Fund has been postponed to 2021.
“This was a difficult decision but ultimately we felt under the latest gathering restrictions from the state this program would not be as impactful as originally designed,” said Deputy Superintendent of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services, Sarah Larson. “We look forward to uniting neighbors and building community with All Heart Pop-Up Parks in 2021.”
The Board of Park Commissioners took action for additional closures under consideration at their regular meeting on Wednesday May 20. This includes keeping the Pine Lake Adventure Park course closed through the end of 2020.
The decision was reached based on a recommendation from Medeiros after a risk assessment and financial analysis.
“Staff are developing a business plan for the course, working on a number of enhancement projects including a new park bathroom, small parking lot and additional course elements,” said Medeiros. “We expect a full overhaul of program offerings conjunction with our grand re-opening in early 2021.”
Additionally, the Parks Board is considering keeping Muzzy Field closed for the summer in light of the cancellation of the Bristol Blues and American Legion.
“A benefit of keeping the stadium closed would be to allow us to move forward with several upcoming capital improvement projects including a major field renovation, fence replacement and LED lighting upgrades,” said Medeiros. “This may be an opportune time to complete that work while impacting the least amount of users as possible.”
The board will discuss this possibility further at their June 17 meeting.
The Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services Administrative Offices in City Hall and the Youth and Community Services Satellite office remain closed to the public but staff are working Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are available by phone and e-mail.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.