BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Denise Biegeman was enjoying the sunshine and taking her dogs for a walk Thursday afternoon at Schiffler Park in Beaverton.
“Being outside definitely helps,” she told KOIN 6 News. “My dogs need exercise, I need exercise, so getting out with the fresh air and beautiful blue skies is definitely good for the soul.”
Most people, like Biegeman, understand that social distancing during the pandemic includes parks and recreation activities. Parks and trails in the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District are open — but some of the amenities are closed.
And that’s where officials are finding some problems and areas of concern.
“Most people are following the rules and doing a great job,” said Holly Thompson with THPRD. “But we have a small number of folks who are doing everything they can to get into amenities.”
Thompson said signs have been stolen, bolt cutters used to break locks and a noticeable uptick in graffiti.
The basketball courts, for instance, are closed. At first, park officials tied the nets but people cut the ties. Then they put 2x4s over the basketball rims but “some people have actually broken those boards down in still trying to play basketball,” she said.
“People are still going into the skatepark. As soon as we put up any sort of barrier, such as caution tape or barricade signs or any physical barrier, they’re walking away. So we really need help from the public to please, please stay off the closed amenities.”
Thompson said people have gone to the tennis courts and used bolt cutters to break the locks. They’ve also climbed fences.
Adding to the issue is the fact THPRD “had to lay off all of our part time and seasonal staff, so our service levels are greatly reduced in the park district right now.”
She said they’re trying to be as responsive as possible.
“We need help from the public. Don’t be afraid if you see someone on a play structure, if you see someone bouncing a basketball, go ahead and let them know, hey, you know, those courts are closed.”
People can also contact the Park Patrol to report someone who is not following these pandemic orders. Their phone number is 971.246.0169.
People can hike , walk, bike or run through the parks and trails — just keep 6 feet away from someone else.
“But that’s about it,” Thompson said.