Rec centers to close amid virus outbreak

Painter Park rec center and other Minneapolis Parks facilities will close through at least April 5 amid the coronavirus outbreak. file photo

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will close its community recreation centers Tuesday, March 17, in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

The rec centers, and programming hosted by the MPRB, including RecPlus childcare and youth sports, will cease operation through April 5, according to parks officials. The closure applies to all 47 rec centers, ice arenas, the Kroening Interpretive Center and the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Visitor Center. 

The Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park will close on March 17 until at least March 27, according to a Loppet Foundation spokesperson. The trails remain open to the public.

“It’s a very fluid situation and we’re really monitoring what the Minnesota Department of Health and Minneapolis Public Health is recommending,” MPRB spokesperson Dawn Sommers said. 

Parks and trails throughout Minneapolis remain open to the public, and the MPRB is encouraging residents to go outside to relax and exercise while maintaining social distancing practices by keeping at least 6 feet of space from others, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when encountering other park users. 

“There’s a lot of open space out there and it’s a great place to be,” Sommers said. 

At this time, board of commissioners meetings, including a planned March 18 meeting, remain scheduled. The MPRB is encouraging members of the public and media to watch the meetings on public access television, live on the City of Minneapolis website or on YouTube afterward in an effort to promote social distancing.

The Park Board is looking at ways to spread out commissioners for meetings or to possibly hold the meetings remotely. The Minnesota Department of Administration released a statement saying the law allows for public meetings in the state to occur remotely during a pandemic or if the governor declares an emergency, which has occurred. In that case, all members of the board must be able to hear each other, members of the public in attendance must be able to hear everything and a roll call vote is required for all action items. 

Residents may submit comments to be read aloud during open time to board secretary Jennifer Ringold at [email protected]