After adjustments were made to the county parks order by Sonoma County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase, Healdsburg parks reopened with limited access on April 29. While residents may be excited to venture back to parks, not all community members have access.
Even though parks have reopened, there is a catch. Residents can only walk, jog or bike to parks. If you can’t access the park that way, you can’t access the park. Based on the county order, you cannot drive to parks, and park parking lots remain closed. Parking is only for people who require handicapped accessible parking.
There are other guidelines that park goers must follow, including: staying six feet apart from others who are not in your household; letting others pass six feet apart on trails; and carrying facial coverings at all times to use when six foot social distancing cannot be maintained.
Park users also must assess their health and not enter a park if they have had any symptoms of COVID-19, or if they’ve come into direct contact with a COVID-19 positive individual in the past 14 days.
Restrooms, playgrounds, picnic areas, dog parks, courts and other park amenities are also to remain closed, according to the order.
While these guidelines are in place to help keep residents safe, it does create a dilemma of unequal park access.
Healdsburg resident David Huebel lives seven miles out of town, and although he loves to run, local parks are still a bit too far away for him. He misses the feeling of dirt underneath his feet while running.
“I like to run, last weekend I ran 32 miles. I had to run on pavement and that was not my preference. In fact, all my runs have been on pavement or gravel roads for a while. I live seven miles out of town, not near any parks. As someone who would run 10s of miles every weekend for the last four years, this time has been really challenging and this opening is really sad for me because I cannot touch dirt with my shoes even still because of where I live,” Huebel said.
Still, having access to some parks is a small victory.
When asked of the community in a Facebook post on “What’s Happening Healdsburg” which parks people were most excited to get to within walking distance, not many answered since folks want to prevent overuse of parks.
“Not telling so it won’t get overcrowded,” resident Stuart Matlow said.
Although one community member, Michael Fanelli, noted that the Lake Sonoma trail system “Warms his heart.”
Healdsburg parks partially opened:
Badger Park, 750 Heron Dr.
Barbieri Brothers Park, 325 Bridle Path.
Bryon Gibbs Park, 1520 Prentice Dr.
Giorgi Park, 540 University St.
Recreation Park, 515 Piper St.
West Plaza Park, 101 North St.
To read the full Sonoma County health order, visit: https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-amended-parks-closure-order/.