Westborough boards discuss pros and cons of town reopening fields and playgrounds

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By Jennifer L. Grybowski, Contributing Writer

Westborough – Recreation Director Jennifer Kirkland met with the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health June 9 looking for guidance regarding opening fields and playgrounds as is permissible by the state on June 15.

For teams using the fields, she wondered if it was worth having organizers sign something stating they understand the guideline are prepared to do all the things they need to do to keep their team safe. Board of Health Chair Alan Erlich said he wasn’t sure what that would achieve unless there is a legal benefit because people are going to do whatever they want regardless of whether they sign something.

“It’s all about risk mitigation,” Selectman Allen Edinberg said. “For a business that makes an attestation and doesn’t honor it, it creates a liability. With respect to use of the fields, it might be good to ask the more formal organizations for a copy of what everyone is agreeing to, to make sure it’s at least as protective as the town is considering. It might alleviate some paperwork on our end.”

It was decided officials would seek advice from Town Counsel and the town’s insurance company.

As for playgrounds, Kirkland reported that some other towns are opening up their structures, but posting they are not sanitizing and disinfecting, reminding people about social distancing, and suggesting that if there are more than 10 people on the structure to wait or come back later. She asked what kinds of signage the boards would be comfortable with.

“If you open the playgrounds, the idea of social distancing goes out the window,” Erlich said. You just have to accept that. So you either close them, or use them at your own risk. My feeling opening playgrounds is there is some risk but it is reasonable for some people to expose themselves in that fashion.”

Board of Selectman Chair Ian Johnson agreed, saying that he didn’t want to put too many restrictions on the playgrounds.

“If we try to mandate things, we are going to get overwhelmed with calls and then we have to put our resources on monitoring playgrounds,” he said. “I think they should be open, and just put up a sign that we are not sanitizing and to use at your own risk.”