You may soon hear the sounds of baseballs smacking into leather mitts or being launched off metal bats at Bowling Green and Warren County parks as state restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic ease up a bit.
But don’t expect to see or hear any activity from the popular Russell Sims Aquatic Center anytime soon.
Following guidelines established by Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration that allowed as of Monday gatherings of up to 50 people, some city and county youth baseball leagues have started practicing and could begin competition next week.
“We have our sports fields open, and our Babe Ruth and Little League teams have been practicing with 10 or fewer players and one coach,” said Brent Belcher, parks and recreation director for the city of Bowling Green. “We’ll be phasing into an abbreviated season.”
Belcher isn’t sure when those leagues will begin having games.
“I really don’t think we’ll have games anytime soon. The kids are still getting into the practice routine,” he said.
One thing Belcher is certain of: the Russell Sims Aquatic Center and the Sprayground at Lampkin Park won’t be opening anytime soon, despite Beshear’s announcement that public pools could open this week.
“We don’t have a date for opening (the pool),” Belcher said. “We feel like it’s in the best interest of protecting the safety of residents to keep it closed for now. We’ll see how we progress with the opening of other parks facilities. There are a lot of unknowns now.”
Belcher did say the outdoor fitness center at Preston Miller Park and the indoor fitness facility at the Moxley Community Center are open, with limitations. More than half the equipment at the indoor facility is blocked off to allow for social distancing, for example.
Warren County Parks and Recreation Director Chris Kummer said Warren County South and Warren County North Little League baseball teams have been practicing, along with the county’s Cal Ripken baseball teams.
They could begin competition as soon as July 6, Kummer said, but the games will happen only under some strict guidelines.
No more than 50 spectators will be allowed at each of the fields being utilized. Kummer said a limited number of fields are being used, and he said the bleachers are closed at all of them.
“We’re encouraging people to bring their own lawn chairs,” Kummer said. “And we’re encouraging people to wear masks.”
Kummer said hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at all parks, along with signs that spell out the rules for park activities during the pandemic.
“We’re looking forward to seeing people in the parks, but the capacity will be greatly reduced,” he said.
Kummer said the playgrounds at county parks will remain closed for now.
"We'll keep our playgrounds closed until the state issues guidance in regards to playgrounds," Kummer said.
Gymnasiums at Buchanon, Phil Moore and Ephram White parks are expected to open as soon as July 6, Kummer said, but they will be operating under strict guidelines that include mask-wearing and temperature checks.
“We need the public’s support to keep everybody safe,” Kummer said. “If we all work together, we can make it happen.”
Belcher said operating under the coronavirus restrictions is particularly difficult during the warmer months when people want to be outside enjoying the parks.
“This is a trying time for all parks departments,” he said. “This should be the peak time of the year for parks, but we’ve had to throttle that down to meet state requirements.”
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