Oakland Township Parks and Recreation

Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Covid 19 Social Distancing Statement
April 29, 2020
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In order to control and limit the spread of this communicable disease, it is necessary to prevent infected people from coming into contact with uninfected people.  During this time, when we are advised to remain at home to the maximum extent feasible, our Governor continues to allow the public to recreate outdoors.  Numerous studies have shown that there are physical and mental benefits to spending time in green spaces.    

The National Parks and Recreation Association’s (NRPA) recent poll shows that an overwhelming majority of adults in the United States find exercising at their local parks, trails, and open spaces essential to maintaining their mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • Eighty-three percent of U.S. adults agree that visiting their local parks, trails and open spaces is essential for their mental and physical well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 59% of respondents say that it is very or extremely essential to exercise in parks or green spaces to relieve stress and remain healthy during this crisis.
All Oakland Township parks and trails are open for use by the public in accordance with social distancing guidelines.  The Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission and Staff are committed to providing our residents with the opportunity to enjoy a walk, jog, bike, or horseback ride in your parks during this stressful time.  During this time of high park visitation, we are working every day to ensure that you can enjoy a safe, clean, and peaceful park experience.  The value of our local parks to the health of our community transcends measurement.  Please note that by the Order of the Governor of Michigan, all playgrounds, basketball courts, and fishing/kayak docks located in Oakland Township Parks are closed.
While the Parks and Recreation offices are currently closed to the public we are still receiving and responding to your phone calls and emails and have been busy adapting our programming to this new era.  Please go to our website (www.oaklandtownship.org) and our Facebook link to see our virtual yoga and tai chi classes, our nature videos and to participate in our Parks Photo Contest. 
To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on our workers and the public, Oakland Township Parks and Recreation is currently developing plans for best practices to safely reopen facilities so that both employees and citizens remain safe.  We have been consulting CDC, OSHA, County Health Orders, Executive Orders/Directives as well as planning being done by other parks systems.
According to NRPA more than 80% of parks agency programs have not been cancelled but are in a holding pattern waiting for guidance.  Similarly, we will be looking to NPRA’s national guidance to identify programs that can be re-opened in a phased approach and others that may take longer to reinstate while ensuring that the appropriate safety protocols and practices are in place first.  Our staff and instructors are committed to offering summer wellness, fitness, nature, and summer camps. Please watch for our Parks and Recreation Summer Newsletter which will be issued in the last half of May.  It will be an online newsletter with hard-copies available also.
There has been some question regarding what has changed in the Governor’s most recent COVID-19 executive order 2020-70 regarding the temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life versus a previous version (2020-42) and its potential impact on our parks and recreation system.   The good news for our parks system is that our mowing, lawn care and pest control contractors are permitted to resume those services.  Moreover, our natural areas stewardship staff will be resuming their regular springtime work which includes removing invasive plants and restoring grassland and wetland habitats. We also trust that our park improvement projects; including the addition of trails, parking facilities, and drinking water, will continue to move forward too.
What has not changed from our permitted work, as stated in previous orders, is the maintenance of safe and sanitary parks.  We continue to perform this in-person outdoor work consistent with social distancing practices and other mitigation measures.