City listens, takes positive step by opening parks, playgrounds

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City leaders made a good decision last week, voting to open parks, playground equipment and ball fields after listening to citizen feedback.
Hamilton County, and thus the city of Aurora, were given the green light to begin a Phase 1 roll-back effective June 1, which came as welcome news to a community anxious to get outside and take a step back toward some sense of normal. Being able to use recreational facilities, including parks and playground equipment, could be considered a giant leap in that direction, especially for young families with kiddos cooped up at home needing a place to burn off some energy and have some fun.
The reaction on social media after a week-long delay in allowing the use of playground equipment reflected an on-going debate across our country. Communities like Aurora now face a challenge that has begun to test our small-town sense of trust and communication.
As anxious as we are to get back out there and start living our lives again, the reality is that some are far more comfortable with that notion than others. Last week’s social media debate on this topic reflected that gap, with some suggesting that the COVID pandemic is all politics, while others supported the concept of erring on the side of caution in order to keep children safe.
The reality is that even in a small crowd, perhaps including your friends, co-workers and members of your immediate family, there may be significant differences of opinion on what is considered “safe, appropriate or necessary” behavior. We can agree to disagree, but we need to communicate, which is much more effective when done respectfully, and directly, especially at the local level.
In the end, city leaders listened, opening the parks and playgrounds, while leaving signs up reminding parents that there is some risk in using public facilities during this pandemic. The swimming pool, unfortunately, remains closed by governor’s order until at least July 15, and due to staffing concerns mid-way through an already short season may not open at all in 2020. That final decision has yet to be made.
Residents in Aurora and Hamilton County are slowly starting to go back to church, restaurants, hair salons and other venues, though Hamilton County, because of high case counts and related death numbers in the Central District Health Department, remains under stricter guidelines than most of the state. We suggested in this space last week that perhaps a better policy would be to establish protocols on a county by county basis, rather than by health district, but as of now it is what it is.
In the meantime, patience will be tested regarding appropriate pandemic protocols. The good news is Aurora passed that test this week.
Kurt Johnson

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