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South Hadley, Mount Holyoke College close outdoor recreation areas, facilities

  • Golfers at Ledges Golf Club in South Hadley. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2020 1:41:58 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Outdoor recreation areas including town parks, hiking trails, and playgrounds and their playscapes are closed through at least May 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to town officials.

The town announced on its website that as of Wednesday, these recreation areas will be closed to limit gatherings of 10 or more people, as ordered by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Additionally, Mount Holyoke College grounds and facilities are closed to the public, the town announced Thursday, including athletic facilities.

Some of the closed South Hadley facilities include Beachgrounds Park, Buttery Brook Park, Ledges Golf Club and school fields and playgrounds.

Baker issued the order to ban 10-plus person gatherings beginning on March 23, initially through April 7 but extended the order through May 4. While the order applies to gatherings of more than 10 people in any confined indoor or outdoor space, it specified that open outdoor spaces such as parks and athletic fields were not prohibited.

But the closure of these outdoor areas is “consistent with Governor Baker’s order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more, his directive to implement social distancing and his advisory to remain at home,” town officials said.

Some communities, including Northampton and Hadley, have seen increased crowding at outdoor trails since Baker’s stay-at-home advisory, with reports of a high volume of cars parked near locations such as Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area in Florence and Mount Holyoke Range State Park in Hadley as the weather warms up and people seek ways to stay active.

Amherst announced on Sunday that the town was closing public playgrounds, though parks and other outdoor recreation areas were not included in this order.

South Hadley town officials continue to urge the public to stay home unless it is “absolutely necessary” to go out. If residents must leave the house, they are reminded to adhere to social distancing measures, such as keeping at least six feet between themselves and others out in public. Residents who are walking their dogs in areas yet to be closed must keep their pets leashed at all times.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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