Five Rivers MetroParks extends cancellations to June, outdoor parks remain open

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Five Rivers MetroParks’ outdoor parks and trails remain open but they have taken action through preventative measures and changes, such as closing restrooms, playgrounds, and other communal areas.

The organization also announced on Tuesday that they have extended cancellations and select closures through Sunday, June 7. 

The cancellations and select closures were originally scheduled through May 3. The extension to June 7 includes the cancellation of programs, events, volunteer activities, shelter and camping reservations, and rentals, as well as the closure of such indoor facilities as the 2nd Street Market and visitor centers.

“Knowing that we were going through graduation season and many people had reserved picnic shelters and things like that to hold celebrations, we wanted to give them time to get their refund processed and time to allow them to change their plans as needed,” said Shelli Difranco, the Director of Marketing and Public Engagement for Five Rivers MetroParks.

At Cox Arboretum on Tuesday, signs welcomed visitors that reminded of social distancing and warned of limited parking to prevent crowding. MetroPark officials said it’s up to the community to follow their guidelines to keep the parks and trails open.

Tom and Mary Martin told 2 NEWS they walk Cox Arboretum every day. During the coronavirus pandemic, they continue that tradition, but take extra precautions.

“We stay a good ways from them, at least seven or eight feet, we get over in the grass when we pass people, it’s no problem,” said Tom.

Everyone here seems to do the same thing, everyone is aware in one way shape or form,” added Mary.

Some park visitors wore masks and brought their own water bottles because water fountains and other communal areas like benches are closed.

“As people come to our different parks, it’s really important that they be prepared for what the parks look like now because it’s different than what they’re used to,” said Difranco. “So for a family coming out, it’s important for them to bring water, bring hand sanitizer, and remember that whatever they bring into the park, they need to bring out. That’s especially important for those of us that have pets and are taking dogs on trails. Be prepared to carry that waste back out with you.”

Restrooms, water fountains, and playgrounds and nature play areas are closed and seating is limited following the removal and closure of many swings and benches.

Difranco said they are committed to keeping the parks and trails open by finding creative ways to encourage social distancing and good hygiene.

“We have done some changes at places, like our mountain bike trail at Huffman MetroPark, in turning it one-way as an effort to decrease the amount of interaction folks are having when they’re enjoying the park,” said Difranco.

Difranco said they know the importance of green space during these stressful times so they’re committed to staying open but it has to be done with these limitations to help with social distancing.

They are also encouraging visitors to explore their less frequently used parks or bike their recreational trails..

“We’ve got some conservation areas like Medlar and Dull Woods that offer you great opportunities to view wildlife and wildflowers that are blooming right now,” said Difranco. “We also have the nation’s largest network of paved trails, we have over 340 miles of them.”

Difranco said connecting with nature during this time is important but they want to stress that any green space counts as you still need to practice social distancing outdoors.

“It can be one of our MetroParks, it can be in your backyard, it can be in your neighborhood green space,” said Difranco. “Anytime that you have the opportunity to get out and get fresh air with those in your household, it can really benefit us in all sorts of ways.”

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