As businesses and entertainment establishments around Victoria closed their doors during the past few weeks, residents began turning to the city’s parks as a way to get out of the house.
“We’re seeing a sudden shift where people are spending more time outside, in nature,” said Parks and Recreation Director Danielle Williams. “The parks and walking trails give people an opportunity to do something that’s safe and free.”
Residents have more options now under Governor Greg Abbott’s new executive order that allows businesses to reopen, but with some still closed or operating at reduced capacity and with many events canceled or postponed during the coming months, Williams expects the parks will continue to see an increased number of visitors.
One business coming back online is Riverside Golf Course, which reopened Friday, May 1, with a new set of rules in place to protect public health. Staff are required to wear face masks, equipment is being sanitized frequently and groups are limited to no more than four people.
Public playgrounds, bathrooms, athletic facilities and pavilions remain closed to the public and are currently scheduled to reopen June 1. Williams said the decision to keep these facilities closed is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to restrict gatherings of 10 or more people.
“An open pavilion or playground tends to encourage people to gather more than a walking trail,” Williams said. “If the CDC changes its recommendations to allow larger groups, we’ll look at reopening those facilities.”
Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation staff are working to respond to the increased volume of visitors to public places. Williams has assigned more staff to pick up litter in high-traffic areas, and the department has placed signs to educate new visitors about picking up after their dogs and keeping them on leashes.
To make a reservation to play at Riverside Golf Course, call 361-573-4521 or visit playriversidegc.com. For more information about parks in Victoria, call 361-485-3200.
PHOTO: A sign at the Lone Tree Creek Hike and Bike Trail reminds residents to leash and pick up after dogs. The sign was placed after the walking trail experienced an increase in visitors when nonessential businesses closed due to COVID-19.