Code Enforcement Officer Mark Blaisdell discusses the Phase 2 rules and regulations for the reopening of parks and recreational areas.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday took some more steps toward a return to a "new normal."
The past few weeks have seen on-site retail sales return and patio seating reopen, followed by a socially distanced form of inside dining for restaurants.
Wednesday night the board, with guidance from Code Enforcement Officer Mark Blaisdell, took the necessary steps to reopen parks and open spaces.
The Selectmen ordered all parks and open spaces closed on March 29 until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They rescinded that order on Wednesday night in accordance with Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan.
Parks will be able to reopen Thursday, June 25, at 8 a.m. For softball and baseball coaches and kids, this is a welcome respite from backyard Wiffle ball or hitting off a tee in the basement into a pile of laundry. The reopening does come with several caveats however.
Pursuant to the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, there are several limitations in place. First and foremost is that games or scrimmages will not be allowed. It will be practice only and groups will be limited to 12 participants including coaches.
Contact sports of any kind are still not allowed and practices of these must be conditioning only and still adhere to the guidelines set forth by the state EEA. According to the EEA, contact sports include basketball, football, soccer, field hockey and others "where ordinary play puts players in direct contact or close proximity."
The president of Adams-Cheshire-Savoy Softball, Lou Moser, was attending the meeting remotely and afterward said the girls are excited for the change.
"ACS girls softball is eager and excited to see our players get back to a degree of normalcy where they can smile and laugh 'face to face' with their friends," he said. The league will also be requesting space at Cheshire Elementary's fields.
Any group looking to use Valley Street, Renfrew or Reid fields must fill out a facility use request and also have a health and safety plan in place. Paperwork can be found on the town website
and the entire list of rules and regulations can be found on Mass.gov
All kids, whether participating in an organized league or just playing on the jungle gyms must be supervised at all times. Selectman Joseph Nowak said he hopes parents stay vigilant so the parks can remain open.
"It's only going to be as successful as the adults that are going to be taking care of the kids. I worry about young kids being carriers, perhaps they'll go home [with no symptoms] and pass it on to their parents or grandparents," he said. "I'm glad the activity that is going to be taking place is run by adults so that all the rules are followed."
Russell Field was not mentioned during the reopening discussions as reconstruction will begin in earnest July 20. The roughly half-million dollar project will effectively close the field for the entirety of 2020. The Department of Public Works has been performing preliminary work clearing the way for Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare from Chicopee to begin the total rehabilitation.
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt announced that the town is looking to fill several empty seats on a couple of important boards. The recent resignation of Jake Levesque has left the Parks Commission with only three members out of its usual five. All three would need to be present for any vote to happen and given the expected uptick in applications because of the parks reopening, she thought it was crucial to fill the two empty seats.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is short one regular member as well as two alternates. Any appointment would be until next year's town election and anyone interested can contact Town Hall or visit the website.
The board entered executive session to discuss the potential contract of newly appointed interim Police Chief Troy Bacon. They were expected to approve the contract when they reconvened. Pending the contract being finalized and passing a physical, Bacon is expected to start before current Chief Richard Tarsa retires on July 13.