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Cleveland Metroparks Closing Roadways, Attractions To Aid Social Distancing

Metroparks attractions no longer open to the public include Edgewater Pier, Euclid Beach Pier, Fort Hill Stairs, Squire’s Castle and some picnic areas. Edgewater Pier was empty on Sunday, March 30, after a rainstorm, but the park was soon teeming with visitors. [Gayle Putrich / Ideastream]
Empty Edgewater Pier on Sunday, March 30, 2020

Cleveland Metroparks is restricting access and closing down attractions to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, including Edgewater Pier and Squire’s Castle.

Metroparks is also closing some roadways and high-traffic attractions to ensure those visitors are maintaining a distance of at least six feet from one another as recommended by health officials.

As public libraries and gathering places close down during the pandemic, parks have seen a surge in visitors.

“We have gotten some complaints that people think we’re taking away their ability to use the parks,” Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman told WCPN’s the Sound of Ideas Thursday morning. “That is not what we’re doing. We’re trying to stay open.”

Attractions no longer open to the public include Edgewater Pier, Euclid Beach Pier, Fort Hill Stairs, Squire’s Castle and some picnic areas.

Golf courses are also changing their operations, Zimmerman said, such as changing tee times to put more distance between golfers. Two courses, Little Met and Mastick Woods, are closed.

“We have taken the extraordinary times to separate people,” Zimmerman said. “People are really trying to adapt to this situation.”

Vehicle traffic through some Metroparks properties is closing in an effort to provide more space for pedestrians to spread out, Zimmerman said. Roadway restrictions apply at the Brecksville, Rocky River and South Chagrin reservations.

The state has not ordered the closure of parks, Zimmerman said, and the preventative measures are meant to ensure harsher restrictions aren’t necessary.

“We’ve had great conversations downstate. They’re listening, they want to keep these 23,000 acres open,” Zimmerman said. “But it’s not helpful when people are personally attacking the park district for closing some of these things off. We are trying to be part of the solution.”

Other gathering places such as basketball courts have been closed down to prevent people from forming groups and interacting more than recommended, Zimmerman said.

State officials are also warning the pandemic could continue into the summer months, disrupting activities in the warmer weather, which would have a deeper impact on operations at Metroparks locations, Zimmerman said, and could spark more changes later.

“I think it’s something that we’re going to have to adapt to and understand,” Zimmerman said. “We have canceled, obviously, all of April’s, and we’re well into May.”