Utica and Rome’s city parks have been shut down since last year, but starting April 2 the parks will open up for tennis and basketball.
The cities are aiming to have the parks open for other sports like soccer and baseball starting April 19.
Rome Mayor Jackie Izzo knows people are anxious to get out, but opening the parks now requires approval from the state.
"An announcement can be made by the governor, but until we get the guidance document so that we can read the details and understand what we have to do, we can’t open a facility. No, so it had nothing to do with people just saying I’m going to the basketball court and playing no matter what. They couldn’t anyway," said Izzo.
It’s taken a little work to get the parks open, and it’s going to take more work to keep them open.
Youth and adult sports leagues now have to submit a plan outlined by the State of New York, and the cities need to keep an eye on mass gatherings. If a gathering exceeds 200 people, attendees must present proof of a negative COVID test.
"Utica has the rims down our backboards were boarded because there was an executive order that did not permit that, but now we have the guidance. We are able to from our standpoint know what we need to do to turn the facility back, and then we have to monitor it."
Rome’s mayor talked about a challenge she’s likely going to face in the summer months. Finding employees that will run the youth programs at the parks.
"Throughout the gradual increase of the minimum wage we realized early on we couldn’t find employees," she said. "Obviously if they can go next door and get $2 more an hour they’re going to go there, and there’s a real issue with unemployment right now. Because unemployment is so generous, it’s very difficult for anyone to find employees."
Additional signage will be added to keep recreational groups aware of the new regulations, and both cities are asking that CDC guidelines be followed whenever possible.
Permits are required to use Utica parks and fields for some sports other than basketball. To apply for a permit, call 315-738-1342 or email Rebecca Duval at: email@example.com.
In Rome, permits are not required but it is recommended to contact the city recreation department for availability by calling 315-339-7656.