Buckhannon City Hall
Buckhannon City Hall

Council closes all city parks except Riverwalk and Jawbone ‘for now’ to mitigate COVID-19 spread

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon has closed all its parks, with the exceptions of Jawbone Park and the Elizabeth J. ‘Binky’ Poundstone Riverwalk Trail, to mitigate the threat of COVID-19

At an emergency Buckhannon City Council meeting ahead of the regularly scheduled council meeting slated for Thursday, April 2, members unanimously approved several measures in addition to the ones council adopted March 19, which, among other rules, banned people from gathering in groups of 10 or more inside city limits.

During the emergency meeting, which was livestreamed via Channel 3, Mayor David McCauley assured residents that essential services – including garbage pickup, water service and sanitary sewer service – would continue uninterrupted. The Buckhannon Police and Fire departments will also continue to respond to calls, although their administrative offices are now closed.

McCauley announced that all city parks and playgrounds – with the exceptions of Jawbone Park and the Riverwalk Park – will be closed effective immediately. And although Jawbone will remain open, picnic tables and benches will be removed from its premises.

The mayor said the city is taking the action because “it simply cannot guarantee” that COVID-19, or the coronavirus, will not spread via the steel and plastic surfaces in city parks. McCauley noted that droplets from the virus can remain on the materials for up to 72 hours following contamination.

Parks that will be closed include the City Park, North Buckhannon Riverfront Park, Fred Brooks Memorial Park, the Harley Brown/Rotary Park, the playground at Stockert Youth & Community Center and the Buckhannon Dog Park.

The areas will be “closely monitored” by the Buckhannon Police Department, and anyone who violates the emergency measures could be cited for trespassing, obstruction of justice or both.

The mayor also noted that residents are to maintain a six-foot social distancing space between themselves in public and while utilizing the remaining open parks.

“The Riverwalk and Jawbone Park will remain open for now,” he said, saying council would consider closing them if city officials “continue to receive complaints” about residents failing to act upon social distancing guidelines.

Other measures unanimously approved by council Thursday included:

  • Requiring residents to bag and seal garbage to protect the city’s Waste Department workers. Garbage that’s not sealed and bagged will not be picked up.
  • Requiring stores to post additional signage beginning Monday, April 6, urging patrons to practice social distancing by remaining six feet apart and asking people under 16 years old to refrain from entering. “All grocery and convenience stores located within the corporate limits of our city shall each post signage to be displayed by no later than Monday, April 6 at their primary entrance points for patrons urging patrons to shop alone, while seeking to discourage as much as possible entry to their establishments by those under 16 years of age,” McCauley said.
  • Requiring residents to maintain a six-foot social distancing space from one another while ordering takeout, on city sidewalks and patronizing the Riverwalk and Jawbone parks.
  • Asserting that refusal to maintain social distancing protocols could result in a citation.
  • “Strongly discouraging” travel into and out of the city for the time being and “strongly encouraging” continued self-quarantining.

“We all continue to appreciate our excellent city staff, the hospital and healthcare employees who are on the front line of battling this threat, the staffs at our grocery stores who are working overtime to stock shelves so that we may all continue to be fed, and the restaurants that continue to offer delivery or pick-up food services,” McCauley said. “We are all in this together, and I know as we get through the coming weeks, that we’ll remain strong as a community with minimal impact upon the health of our residents.”

“Anyone having an emergency should contact 911 as you normally would,” he added. “The best source of information about COVID-19 remains the Centers for Disease Control website.”

City recorder Randy Sanders made a motion to adopt the additional measures, which was seconded by councilman Robbie Skinner before passing unanimously. Several council members participated in Thursday’s meeting by telephone.

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