Summer is just around the corner, and your Milwaukee County Parks will be there to greet the season with open arms. Well, most of the time with open arms. At the end of last week, the parks department released a brief COVID Spring Update, detailing what’s open, what’s closed, and what’s left in the air. “This information can change frequently,” says Milwaukee County Parks, “so please also see our Knowledge bank for the latest updates. “
Here is where it stands at the moment:
The CDC recently updated its guidelines on the use of outdoor equipment, based on the low risks of catching COVID-19 from surfaces. This means that playgrounds, outdoor gyms and other outdoor facilities will be open as usual this summer – social distancing and frequent hand washing are still advised, of course.
Picnic areas and picnic shelters will also be available for rent and reservations are now being accepted. The majority of the park’s washrooms will also be open this summer, but no decision has yet been made on whether or not to activate the bubblers.
Sports and outdoor activities
All 14 golf courses are now open for the season. Capacity limits are still in place in clubs and masks are mandatory inside clubs. The disc golf courses, which are being put to rest to allow the grass to grow back, will reopen on May 1.
Non-contact sports are allowed, therefore tennis courts, basketball courts and futsal courts will be open. Baseball, softball and volleyball fields are available for hire for practice or for leagues and tournaments with approved safety plans. However, Milwaukee County Parks will not be offering the 2021 Spring / Summer Softball League season. We hope to be able to have fall sports leagues starting in August. Permits for contact sports, such as rugby or football, are not currently issued.
Current health guidelines cap outdoor activities at 1,000 – meaning most group volunteer activities, such as weeding, can move forward as well. We are also looking for volunteers for our micro-volunteering program, Brew Hero, as well as volunteers for community science initiatives such as bee monitoring.
Small special events with an approved COVID-19 security plan will be allowed over the summer. These events include 5 km races, farmers markets and outdoor weddings. Large special events that draw crowds of over 1,000 people are currently not permitted.
Large-scale gatherings like the July 3 fireworks show and the air and water show are still under consideration, but small July 4 fireworks may be permitted with approved security plans.
The Forked Aster Hiking Trails and Oak Leaf Trail are open as usual. However, two long term detours are currently in place on the Oak Leaf Trail. One on the Root River line on the Underwood Creek Drive near Hansen Golf Course to accommodate highway work, and the second on the zipline due to the sink hole – repair work is expected to begin this year.
In addition to the trails, Active Streets will return to Estabrook Park Parkway this summer.
The Domes, Boerner and Wehr
The Mitchell Park Domes will continue to operate at their current hours throughout the summer – so they will remain closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. end. Capacity is still limited and advance reservations are required.
The Boerner Botanical Gardens will be open seven days a week, with limited capacity, from May 1. Advance reservations are required and public access to the Visitor Center will be limited, but small rentals and weddings will be permitted.
At the Wehr Nature Center, nature trails and outdoor amenities, including the accessible pier, are open. Access to the reception center is limited to toilets and reception.
Community and sports centers and indoor facilities
Most indoor facilities remain closed to the public or have limited access. The Kozy Community Center and Milwaukee County Sports Complex are currently in use as vaccination sites for Milwaukee County. The gyms at the Kozy and King centers are open for controlled access. The Milwaukee County Sports Complex and Wilson Ice Arena remain closed to the public.
Rentals of indoor spaces, including park pavilions, will be available with limited capacity. The South Shore Pavilion, Gordon Park Pavilion, and Greenfield Park Pavilion are currently available, with more rooms slated for rental starting June 1, and all indoor pavilions are slated to open by November 1. .
Pools, beaches and splashing
Several outdoor pools and water parks are scheduled to open this summer, but the number of pools we open will depend on how many lifeguards we can hire. Plans for wading and wading pools to open will likely be similar to 2020 – with partial openings spread evenly across the county. Please check our website or the Parks Explorer app for updates.
The recruitment of lifeguards will also impact our ability to provide lifeguards to Bradford Beach this year. McKinley Beach will be closed for swimming this summer due to continuing safety risks. The high lake levels have increased the chances of dangerous tides at McKinley Beach, so a safety survey will be held there over the summer.
The two indoor swimming pools, at Noyes & Pulaksi, will remain closed to the public until autumn at the earliest.
Boat launches at McKinley Marina, Riverfront Launch Site and Bender Park will open on May 1. South Shore Park boat launches are not yet in place due to high lake levels. McKinley Marina boat holds will open as usual on May 1
South Shore Terrace beer garden and Whitnall Beer Garden are now open for the season, followed by Vine Humboldt and Traveling Beer Gardens in May. The same COVID-19 precautions introduced in 2020 are still in place, which include more distance between tables, regular cleaning on shared tables, and masks are needed online.
Overall, summer activities in parks in 2021 will likely depend on the continued success of the vaccine rollout, as well as our ability to hire seasonal staff.
Park operations are also affected by the continued shortage of funding for parks. Since 2017, our operating budget has been reduced by $ 5 million, continuing a decades-long model of annual budget cuts required for parks, and each budget reduction impacts our ability to deliver the services we know you will. , our community, feel essential to the quality of life in Milwaukee County.
Parks receive little or no state funding because it is a non-mandated service, and unless something changes at the state level, then by 2027 there will be no no local tax funding available for local priorities – meaning more budget cuts for Parks over the next six years are likely.
Visit our site at www.loveyourparksmke.com for more details on the budget crisis and how you can help. For more details on capital projects, which will continue throughout the year, visit our capital project tracking card at https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/What-We-Do/Planning–Development
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