Most parks in North Hills open, visitors advised to guard against exposure to coronavirus - North Journal

Most parks in North Hills open, visitors advised to guard against exposure to coronavirus

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 | 2:00 PM

Ross Township today joined several others in the North Hills by shutting down parks and recreational facilities to help limit exposure to the coronavirus.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered residents in Allegheny and six other Pennsylvania counties to stay at home unless “someone’s life depends on your leaving.”

The governor’s office has offered a list of activities and reasons for which those covered by the order can leave their homes, including walking, running or hiking; caring for children, the elderly or other dependents; and retrieving materials to work from home.

All nine Allegheny County parks are open, but park users are being encouraged to practice social distancing.

“If residents choose to use restrooms, playground equipment, exercise equipment, park benches or other outdoor items with touch surfaces, proper handwashing and/or use of hand sanitizer is strongly encouraged before and afterward,” parks officials said in a post on the county website.

The North Park Latodami Nature Center and Hartwood Acres Mansion are closed through the end of March.

Facilities at Pennsylvania’s parks and forests will be closed until the end of April in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While municipal parks in several northern Allegheny County communities remain open, officials have closed playgrounds and other amenities inside those parks or are advising people who use the facilities to follow social distancing guidelines and other measures to avoid potential contact with surfaces that may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The order to close parks in Ross includes fields, trails and playgrounds. The township’s community center already is closed and all programs have been suspended.

Marshall Township also has canceled all recreational programs and closed facilities such as playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and the disc golf court, but the parks remain open.

Residents are being encouraged to use the township’s trail system to take “solo” walks and runs for exercise.

Richland Park also is open, but all of the recreational facilities, including the playgrounds, ball fields, the DEK rink and restrooms, are closed. The township also has canceled all recreational programs and activities.

“We closed the facilities inside the park because we can’t sanitize them,” said township manager Dean Bastianini. “But we realize that some people will need to get outside for some exercise so the parks will remain open. The main thing we are trying to avoid is people congregating in the park.”

Shaler Township parks are open, but people who use them are being asked to stay off the playground equipment.

“We put up signs advising people that they are using the parks at their own risk,” said manager Tim Rogers.

Because some people may ignore the advice not to use the playgrounds, the township plans to disinfect the equipment several times a week, Rogers said.

Hampton Township closed the sports courts and playgrounds in its parks, but the facility is open. Officials there also advised residents to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the chances of exposure.

McCandless is keeping its parks open and plans to regularly disinfect the playground equipment, which people can use “at their own risk” according to a posting on the town’s website.

Franklin Park has canceled all activities at the Blueberry Hill Park Activity Center through April 12, but the park itself and all other parks and fields in the borough are open.

The Clover Hill Golf Course is still open, but players will not be permitted to use golf carts.

Pine Township on Tuesday issued a notice on social media saying the community center will be closed through April 6 in response to the governor’s stay-at-home order.