Kzoo parks close, others put in restrictions

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Many West Michigan parks are either being closed or put under restrictions due to COVID-19.

The City of Kalamazoo closed all city parks starting Tuesday.

Initially, just pavilions and jungle gyms were closed, according to Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain. City leaders say recent large gatherings led to the complete closure.

“Over the weekend with the nice weather, we did see a number of groups in the city parks,” Chamberlain said.

Kalamazoo assistant police chief Vernon Coakley says officers will be educating people about the closure and asking them to leave.

He is warning residents there are more aggressive measures that can be taken under the state’s stay-at-home order.

“This could go to the prosecutor’s office and they could be fined up to that $1,000, so certainly arrest is applicable,” Coakley said.

No fines have been given out so far. Coakley says they are hopeful that will not be needed.

Parks remain open in South Haven. But the city has put up social distancing notices at beaches and signs at playgrounds warning of the danger and stating the playground equipment is not sanitized.

South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says city leaders are aware that warmer weather will bring more people outside, but they hope a closure will not be needed.

“We’re trying to walk that balancing act of keeping people safe but also allowing people to get out and exercise and use public spaces,” Dissette said.

Saugatuck is currently keeping parks open. However, the stairway at Mount Baldhead Park is closed because it is not wide enough to keep a minimum social distance.

Grand Rapids parks are open, but many amenities like playgrounds and basketball courts are closed.

City officials News 8 spoke with in communities that have not closed parks say they will continue to monitor them and make changes as needed.