In this video report, First Selectman Chris Spaulding discusses plans to reopen fields, updates residents on projects, and invites volunteers to join committees to promote the census and the town's economic vitality.
Beginning on Monday with the running track at Weston High School, the town's outdoor athletic facilities will gradually reopen, with social distancing restrictions and oversight. The move is highly conditional.
On Thursday evening, the Board of Selectmen voted to approve recommendations from OEM Director Sergeant Joe Miceli to, as First Selectman Chris Spaulding put it, "dip our toes into the water" by restoring access to the track and, if it is used wisely, reopening the high school turf and Morehouse fields some days later.
The track will be open in daytime hours, monitored by Weston Police, school security personnel, and groundskeepers. Runners will have to be sure they can keep several feet between themselves and others, stay in staggered lanes, and wait in the stands for an opportunity to safely go on to the track. The Town plans to place signs to make sure the rules are clear.
Sgt. Miceli made clear that success of the reopening, and whether it will persist, largely depends on how well people self-regulate. He also cautioned that other factors, such as a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area, could cause the facilities to close again.
If all goes well, the Selectmen will meet again on Wednesday and decide whether to open the high school turf fields that day or at the end of the week. Once again, there will be limitations, all to avoid a spread of COVID-19. No groups of more than five will be allowed, no team sports, and no games that involve ball-passing. These rules, said Sgt. Miceli, are consistent with State and health district guidelines.
If all continues to go well on the track and turf, the Town hopes to reopen the fields at Morehouse park on Wednesday, May 20, with similar restrictions.
"Not there yet" on other facilities
Reopening playgrounds will take longer, said the First Selectman, as it is still not determined how swings, slides, and other features will be disinfected.
Opening indoor facilities such as the Library "are a different discussion" that is underway, said Dr. Spaulding. "But we're nowhere near that."
For the athletic fields, a number of factors will be closely monitored. A setback in any one of them could result in a re-closing. Those factors include the number of cases in the area, actions by neighboring towns, hospitalizations, and hospital capacity.
"We're not giving the all-clear," said Dr. Spaulding. "We're really saying we are comfortable there is an ICU bed for you."