MPRB Update 04-03-2020: Response to summer closures and cancellations

Following yesterday’s sharing of summer plans, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) hopes the information below addresses the three primary questions it received today, “Why did the MPRB announce these plans so early in the season?”, “Why are pools, water parks and beaches not opening?” and “Are we not offering any summer programs?”

Why did the MPRB announce these plans so early?

The MPRB will continue to monitor the data and public health impacts being shared by the Governor and Minnesota Department of Health and adjust plans as resources allow.

“If the forecast changes and we able to provide summer services beyond what is currently planned, we will do so as resources allow,” explained Al Bangoura, Superintendent. “Right now, our planning is based on the March 25 scenario shared by Governor Walz that predicts the epidemic peak at 14 weeks, or early July. We interpret this to mean people will continue to get sick beyond that peak projection date, and public health and safety measures will be needed well into July and August.”

Bangoura also explains, “We take public service delivery, transparency and managing expectations seriously, particularly during this pandemic. As information was being shared with media and commissioners at the April 1 Board meeting, we felt obligated to share it with staff and the public.”

Unfortunately, some media coverage didn’t accurately reflect information shared. Yesterday the MPRB didn’t say all summer programs are cancelled; it said programs would be cancelled if they could not be modified or done virtually, to ensure social distancing. Staff are working hard to plan for spring and summer (see details below, in program section).

 

Why aren’t beaches, pools, waterparks and the Webber natural swimming pool opening?  The level of public congregation that takes place at our aquatic facilities and the level of staff required to operate these facilities will make it impossible to open and manage these facilities safely to accommodate social distancing. UPDATE: With almost 80 outdoor aquatic amenities (62 wading pools, 12 beaches, two waterparks, one natural swimming pool), we believe the MPRB has more aquatic amenities than any other city in Minnesota and possibly the country. Maintaining and operating these facilities takes significant lead time and requires significant staff resources. At this time, our workforce has already been impacted by COVID-19. Considering concerns about being able to provide these amenities in a way that would support social distancing, the timeframe and resources required to open them and demands on our workforce, we are not opening these facilities at this time.

Do event cancellations include only MPRB programed events or permitted events too? MPRB events held in neighborhood and regional parks that are produced by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will be cancelled through August. Staff will work to determine if an event can be moved to later in the year, but we anticipate the majority of all MPRB spring and summer MPRB produced events will be cancelled, as they are being cancelled throughout the country. UPDATEThis is for MPRB produced events such as Red White & Boom and smaller neighborhood park events; it does not include permitted events to outside organizations, such as:

  • All permitted events and permitted programs as scheduled are still on, unless external organizers choose to postpone or cancel their events. For instance, the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon (which is a non-MPRB event) is still scheduled as planned.
  • All weddings and wedding receptions in Park facilities are still on as planned after facilities re-open

If summer programs and team sports that do not allow social distancing are being cancelled, what is being offered? Unless a program can be done virtually or adjusted for social distancing, spring and summer programs, athletics and leagues will be cancelled. UPDATE: The MPRB is following MDH guidelines and intends to allow as many spring and summer recreational opportunities as possible, including:

  • All restaurants/concessions still intend to open per usual, including takeout options as directed via the Governor’s orders.
  • Sailing School (both in-house and contracted) programming is currently under evaluation for the opportunity of safe summer operation.
  • All watercraft and other rentals are slated to open as normal, with social distancing and sanitization planning.
  • Sailboat buoy program is still scheduled to operate, with a delayed buoy draw process
  • Canoe rack storage are still scheduled to operate this season.
  • Boat launches are slated open May 1.
  • Fishing, sailing, canoe docks will be installed per usual.
  • Lakes are open for boating and fishing.
  • Summer recreation center programming is being evaluated for safe summer operation; however, registration is currently on hold. This includes Music and Movies daily summer programs.
  • Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden intends to open for the season – with social distancing measures in place for safe enjoyment of the space.