Public playgrounds, sports courts closed at parks throughout Keller, Roanoke, northeast Fort Worth

Playgrounds, basketball courts and other amenities have been closed at parks throughout Keller, Roanoke and Fort Worth. (Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)
Playgrounds, basketball courts and other amenities have been closed at parks throughout Keller, Roanoke and Fort Worth. (Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)

Playgrounds, basketball courts and other amenities have been closed at parks throughout Keller, Roanoke and Fort Worth. (Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Playgrounds, basketball courts and other amenities have been closed at parks throughout Keller, Roanoke and Fort Worth. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Despite stay-at-home orders in place across Tarrant County and Denton County in response to the spread of the coronavirus, local officials have been encouraging residents to enjoy public spaces while practicing social distancing.

But, while parks and trails technically remain open, officials in Keller, Roanoke and Fort Worth have continued to tighten restrictions. The latest restrictions include the closure of volleyball and basketball courts in Keller and Fort Worth.

“The [stay-at-home] order from Tarrant County, which we follow, allows parks to stay open,” Keller City Manager Mark Hafner said. “The reason for that is to let people go outside and get some exercise and some fresh air. With that in mind, we had signage made with the social distancing requirements and knew that volleyball and basketball could be problematic.”

The city of Keller opted to close the city’s 11 playgrounds, public restrooms and public drinking fountains beginning March 20.

The closure of volleyball and basketball courts is due to a number of resident concerns about crowds, according to a city announcement. All parks and trails will continue to remain open for residents who practice social distancing.


“We are getting good compliance, but we are not getting 100%,” Hafner said. “What people are seeing is getting them upset, and we understand that. I think compliance is increasing with each day as people see the gravity of the situation.”

According to the Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management, city officials went so far as to remove volleyball nets and rims at basketball courts due to the public’s lack of social distancing.

The latest measure follows a city announcement March 25 that residents should avoid the more than 200 playgrounds within city limits. With more than 1,000 separate playground units, the city would be unable to sanitize each unit, the announcement said.

The city of Fort Worth is asking residents who do visit city parks to among other things wash their hands; keep a 6-foot social distance; and avoid using public playgrounds, restrooms and drinking fountains.

In Roanoke, city officials responded to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and closed public playgrounds and public restrooms beginning March 22.

The following day, the city announced it would close Roanoke skate park until further notice.

“We have not seen any issues at our parks,” said Ronnie Angel, city of Roanoke director of parks and recreation. “Trails have increased in popularity, but for the most part people are doing a good job of social distancing.”

To help enforce park restrictions the city has barricaded parking lots and installed construction fencing around playgrounds and other off-limits areas, Angel said. City parks and trails will remain open at this time.

“Everybody is doing a good job, but, depending on how long the shelter-in-place order goes for, people will try to get out and do something,” Angel said. “It could be a problem in future.”
By Ian Pribanic
Ian Pribanic covers city government, transportation, business and education news for Community Impact Newspaper in the Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth areas. A Washington D.C. native and University of North Texas graduate, Ian was previously an editor for papers in Oklahoma, West Texas and for Community Impact in New Braunfels.


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