November 27, 2020

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Playgrounds remain closed at Howell parks amid coronavirus concerns; youth sports leagues can play ball

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News 12 Staff Oct 08, 2020, 11:11am EDT Updated on:Oct 08, 2020, 11:11am EDT Playgrounds...

Playgrounds remain closed at
parks in Howell amid
coronavirus concerns, although youth sports leagues will still be permitted to keep playing.

Howell Township officials told residents in a letter most of its
organized sports leagues already had a plan in place relating to COVID-19. Many residents in town were upset
when they received word that parks in the township were suddenly closed.

“There is
no way that they can control that,” says Jimmy Martinez, of Howell. “People
should be more careful when they go there. They should wear masks and keep distance.”

The closure order was issued as a result of increased complaints relating to
the failure of people to follow protocols related to social distancing and mask
wearing while in parks.

According to township officials, a temporary hard stop on park usage was
needed to ensure everyone’s safety. The plan now is to phase in usage over the
next several days, as parks are cleaned and sanitized. Howell
resident Michael Bernstean says the decision has more to do with neighboring
Lakewood Township than it does for people in Howell.

“Our neighboring town, they don’t have
any room for parts,” says Bernstean. “They built everywhere that they possibly
could so they come over here and unfortunately they’re not following social
distancing guidelines.”

Youth sports fields are being
sanitized first, and Lakewood Township has agreed to help. Once the parks are
sanitized, it’s anticipated a reopening for passive recreation
should occur over the next several days, but at this point, playground and
other ‘high-touch’ areas will remain closed.

Many residents asked why the
township cannot restrict the use of parks to township residents, and simply put
— it is not legal. The playgrounds will be closed until further
notice. 

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