The Baldwin County Parks and Recreation Department is reopening its facilities to the public after months of semi-closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The novel coronavirus strain claimed local youth rec baseball and softball seasons as signups for those leagues ended just before the pandemic hit the area in the spring. Fields were shut down to organized sports to fight the spread of the contagious virus. Most facilities were closed, the exceptions being those where social distancing is possible like the playgrounds and walking track.
“It’s been extremely quiet, which is odd,” said Baldwin County recreation director Traci Rollins. “We don’t like it.”
But the director added that she and the recreation staff have seen a change as the state has gone through its various reopening stages.
“We’ve gotten a little traffic outside and it’s starting to pick up, for sure,” she said. “You look outside now and it’s a little bit more back to normal. People are playing on the playgrounds and having picnics. It looks like it’s trying to get back to normal.”
The county recreation department is making a move towards bringing the public back into all its facilities for people looking for ways to get out of their homes. All outdoor basketball goals at Walter B. Williams Jr. Park as well as the parks in Harrisburg and Coopers have been reinstalled, and organized sports were played in Baldwin County over the weekend for the first time since March. Middle Georgia Softball rented the fields at Walter B. Williams Park and hosted a fastpitch tournament featuring 15 teams from around the state. Many guidelines were in place to keep teams and fans of different teams from getting to close to one another as the virus is still spreading very actively.
“We’ve got some of our own stipulations where you can only use half a complex,” Rollins said before the weekend tournament. “There will be no concession stand and the bleachers will be roped off. We’re just trying to get people to abide by all the guidelines. We’re doing all we can to make it work and stay safe.”
Middle Georgia Softball has another tournament scheduled in Baldwin County for July 11.
With the ballfields and outdoor basketball goals now back in play, only one facility remains — the gymnasium at Walter B. Williams Park. Rollins said that building with its two full courts is set to reopen July 6 Mondays through Thursdays. The courts will be open for badminton and pickleball from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., middle and high school kids basketball from 5 to 7 p.m., and finally, open to everyone from 7 to 9 p.m. with a limit set at 30 people per hour.
While the 2020 youth baseball and softball seasons cannot be reclaimed, Rollins is hopeful that football and soccer can still happen. Call the Baldwin County Recreation Department at 478-445-0785 for more information.