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Some St. Louis County council members want parks to open

County parks have been closed since April 3

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The three Republican St. Louis County Council members are asking County Executive Sam Page to reopen the county’s parks – with some limitations.

Page announced that all of the county’s parks would close April 3.

In a letter that council members Ernie Trakas, Mark Harder and Tim Fitch sent to Page and Parks Director Tom Ott Monday, the council members note that the state and surrounding communities such as St. Louis, St. Charles County and Jefferson County have partially closed their parks out of coronavirus concerns, but people are still able to use them for walking, biking, hiking and other activities while practicing social distancing.

“Safety can be accomplished by enacting certain regulations in the open parks, such as closing playgrounds, basketball courts and shelters, reducing hours of operation, limiting size of gatherings to 10, alternating specific uses to different days or hours and canceling all indoor activities,” they wrote. We are confident that our residents are fully informed on the need for caution at this point and we trust that county residents will follow appropriate social distancing and reasonable access/use requirements. Any person(s) not following the rules will be asked to leave by our park rangers and county police.”

In his announcement about the closures, Page said it would last until at least April 22, but said he would re-evaluate the decision by Wednesday.

RELATED: St. Louis City parks remain open despite St. Louis County park closures

The council members included a list of parks they would like to see Page and Ott re-open: St. Vincent, Tilles, Sioux Passage, Lone Elk, Greensfelder, Jefferson Barracks, Queeny and Creve Coeur Lake.

In their letter, the council members said the county’s closures are forcing people into other areas where parks remain open, and suggest the measure to improve social distancing is actually having a reverse effect.

“Closing county parks has forced people to use municipal parks, forcing more individuals into smaller areas,” they wrote.

In a press release, the council members wrote that residents have “overwhelmingly asked for these parks to be reopened for their use and enjoyment.”

“County residents should be able to walk, run, hike and ride bikes in their county parks,” according to the release. “The opening of these parks is not only positive, but necessary for people’s physical and mental well-being. Small gatherings of 10 people or less should be allowed, but park shelters, athletic areas and playgrounds should remain closed.”

Trakas wrote that he believes enjoyment of the parks can be done in a “responsible and safe manner.”

Harder added that he favors “sensible access” to the parks.

Fitch wrote that the group’s goal is to reopen all parks by the middle of May or sooner.

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