Given the beautiful weather, and the lack of anything else to do, many people are using Bellingham’s park and trail system for exercise and fresh air. This is not the time to pull out your blankets, lounge in hammocks or spread out a picnic. Please help us keep our parks and trails open by following Whatcom County Health Department guidelines and Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order by practicing safe social distancing, keep moving and then return home. Below are answers to our frequently asked questions.
Are City Parks and Recreation facilities open?
Parks and park restrooms are open, but there are restrictions in place. Parking at community parks has been limited. Playgrounds, sports courts, fenced dog off leash areas, and ball fields are closed. Open spaces and trails remain open. Indoor facilities, the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center and stadiums are closed. For a complete list please go to our website: www.cob.org/parks.
What can I do or not do at a park during this time?
Under Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order”, exercise is allowed. What you should NOT be doing is picnicking, sunbathing, hanging in a hammock, playing basketball or hanging out. Come to the park, take a walk and get some fresh air, and go home. Parks Ambassadors and staff are monitoring parks and reminding visitors of the guidelines.
Why are park restrooms open?
The City is dedicated to keeping parks and trails open – including park restrooms – throughout all operational periods of the Covid-19 crisis. Restroom availability is imperative to public health, especially while non-essential businesses remain closed to the public. People using parks need a place to wash their hands. If we close all public restrooms, unsheltered people and others who use and depend on park restrooms would be left without options, which creates additional environmental and health hazards to the public and staff.
Why did you limit parking at some parks?
Sunny days, warm temperatures and different work schedules make our beautiful parks hard to resist. Reducing parking helps keep people closer to home and encourages more effective social distancing by limiting how many people are driving to parks and parking in community lots. It has proven to be effective so far.
Why are sports courts closed?
Sports courts (basketball, tennis, pickleball, etc.) are closed because there are many touch points on the court elements that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, it is very difficult to maintain or enforce social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart during more active/aggressive sport play.
Where can I bring my dog?
The fenced off leash areas at Padden and Squalicum Creek parks are closed. Please do not bring your dog onto ballfields – this is always prohibited. Leashed dogs are allowed on all parks and trails. Unfenced off-leash areas are open, but please keep your dog under control to avoid conflict or unnecessary contact with others.
When will Park facilities be open again?
We will open these facilities when the Governor and state and local authorities determine it is safe. We anticipate that there will be additional guidelines to work with once we do open again.
I was on a trail and someone came too close to me. How are you enforcing social distancing guidelines?
Social distancing is an individual and community effort. We have posted 75 signs on our public trails reminding people to maintain appropriate distancing on trails. If you choose to use a public trail, go during times that are less busy, and try less “popular” routes. Please use our park and trail guides or park-finder app to find trails close to your home. If you are not comfortable on public trails, staying in your own neighborhood using sidewalks and bike lanes is another great way to get exercise.
Will Cordata Park open this year? What about swim docks at Bloedel-Donovan?
We are optimistic that Cordata Park will open later this summer. We are still working on permitting and other planning for the docks and lifeguard program at Bloedel-Donovan, but the docks and guards will not be in place until 2021.
What about summer events and programs?
All programs and events at City facilities have been cancelled through May 31, 2020. This includes volunteer work parties. Parks and Recreation staff are working hard to plan for summer. It is unlikely that summer programs and events will look like they have in the past.
What other agency parks and public spaces are open?
See agency websites for details on closures:
- Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest
- Washington State Parks (Larrabee, Fragrance Lake, Birch Bay)
- Port of Bellingham
- Whatcom County
- Department of Natural Resources