Opening Public Parks Will Be Difficult, Necessary

May 14, 2020

Tanana Lakes Recreation Area
Credit Fairbanks North Star Borough

Public pressure to reopen Fairbanks North Star Borough parks has that staff analyzing how to keep users and employees safe. Borough Chief of Staff Jim Williams says staff members are slowly being recalled to borough facilities with very strict social distancing guidelines.

“We’re just getting a lot of requests for services right now.”

Already last weekend’s warmer weather brought families out to borough parks that were closed. But Williams says the Parks and Recreation Department is positioning to respond.

“There’s gonna be people using the parks. I can’t stop that. And I don’t want people to feel like they’re totally cooped up, either. And when they use the parks, they make trash and things happen and break and messes are made, and stuff happens. So, we gotta put people out there to maintain it, or it’s gonna get trashed.”

Williams says he hopes people keep up the practices, like social distancing and not mingling households, recommended for reducing the spread of COVID-19, to protect other park users and borough employees emptying trash cans and cleaning restrooms.

Two borough swimming pools are drained now for repairs and the third is closed to prevent the spread of disease. Even though citizens who live without plumbing are asking for places to shower, staff members say is not practical during the pandemic.

“There’s been analysis and discussion, but, like, right now it’s no. It’s too much to maintain.”

Williams says the burden of sanitizing locker rooms after each use would use up too much personal protective equipment and cost too much.