Lake Arlington path is back open in Arlington Heights, and pools could be next
While still holding out hope for limited outdoor swimming later this month, the Arlington Heights Park District already is reopening some of its marquee attractions.
The path at Lake Arlington reopened Wednesday, while plans call for the driving range at Sunset Meadows Park to open Friday, Canine Commons dog park at Melas Park on Saturday, and all basketball courts by June 19.
The reopenings were approved Tuesday night by the park board amid a barrage of emails and calls district officials say they've received from residents who want more park amenities open.
The district ordered its popular Lake Arlington and Sunset Meadows parks shuttered in early April when crowds gathered despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even with the gradual reopenings, some park features -- such as playgrounds -- remain closed.
Parks staff were adding directional signs to the path at Lake Arlington, which is now open for biking, running and walking. Fishing and privately-owned boats with lake stickers are also allowed.
At the Sunset Meadows driving range, only every other spot will be available to take swings, golf balls and baskets will be sanitized before use, and credit card payments are strongly encouraged, officials say.
The dog park will be limited to no more than 10 owners at a time, and they must be six feet away from each other. If social distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings should be worn, officials said.
As of Thursday, basketball courts at seven neighborhood parks had already reopened. Parks staff is reinstalling rims previously removed because of large pickup group games that were held. Officials warned users this week to practice social distancing while enjoying the courts.
Pioneer Pool has been filled with water in anticipation of lifeguard training, and could be ready to host lap swimming, lessons and swim team practices by June 26, officials said.
Recreation Pool is targeted for a July 6 reopening after some repairs are completed.
"For our community, this is like the one thing that we're able to do that we should be pushing as hard as we can," said park board President Maryfran Leno, who advocated for the earlier opening for Pioneer. "I think it's more than doable."
The board is expected to reevaluate whether to open more aquatics facilities, including three other outdoor pools and the indoor pools at the Arlington Ridge Center, depending on guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Open public swimming is not part of current Phase 3 guidelines in Governor J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, but park officials say state regulations on what is allowed may change. That's what happened late last Friday when state health officials released new rules permitting some limited swimming in Phase 3.
Amid a flurry of other park-related closures in the preceding months, Arlington Heights' park district was one of the few in the suburbs not to rule out pool reopenings in 2020.
"Taking it two weeks at a time and preparing for the next phase without going to the next phase has been our modus operandi this summer, and I think we keep going on that," Commissioner Will Ploger said.
Under the preliminary plans, pool use for lap swimming would be limited to residents 14 and older and require signing up for designated times.