Note: Originally published April 16, when the Asheville Municipal Golf Course was closed, this post has since been updated to reflect that the course has been reopened.
Being outside is good for everyone’s physical and emotional well-being, especially during these stressful times, but what is happening now in our public spaces is simply not safe.
In compliance with Buncombe County’s Stay Home, Stay Safe declaration, City of Asheville parks — including playgrounds, outdoor courts and dog parks — closed on March 27. However, all greenways and walking trails — including the ones located in parks — remain open for walking, cycling, and running. Users should exercise only with members of their household and must still practice physical distancing from others.
Under the declaration, operating the Asheville Municipal Golf Course was not considered to be an essential business and it closed as well. Pope Golf, the company leasing the course from the City, submitted a proposal to operate the golf course that followed CDC-recommended guidelines and the golf course reopened on April 9. Following that, community members and City staff witnessed gatherings of players on the golf course and the City advised Pope Golf of additional safety measures needed, such as limiting the number of individuals on fairways, putting greens, and tee boxes. Pope Golf not only agreed to implement the original measures but suggested other things they could do and then retracted the offer and elected to close the course rather than put those measures into place. Pope Golf closed the Municipal Golf Course at the end of the day April 14. However, Pope Golf elected to reopen on April 20 and agreed to the following:
- Limit the number of people in the clubhouse at one time (staff and guests).
- Provide dedicated way in and out of the clubhouse.
- Have 5 staff positioned around the course to monitor and enforce physical distancing.
- Place additional COVID specific signage printed and posted around the course.
Despite the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of our community members continue to gather in groups in the City’s parks, playgrounds and outdoor courts and parks. Additionally, signage has been removed or destroyed and barriers removed. Facilities have experienced vandalism and property damage from persons entering closed parks. This is dangerous to our entire community, not just those who are violating the Stay Home, Stay Safe declaration.
“We greatly appreciate and thank those in our community who are abiding by and practicing physical distancing; for those who aren’t you can do better,” said Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell. “Our police department is doing their best to educate people who are out of compliance with the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order. Parks & Recreation staff are working tirelessly to maintain and keep our parks safe under these unprecedented circumstances. We ask the community to work with us and slow the spread of COVID-19 by respecting that parks are temporarily closed for play.”
“We ask the community to work with us and slow the spread of COVID-19 by respecting that parks are temporarily closed for play.”
— Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell
We are all in this together and public safety is paramount in these unprecedented times. The City of Asheville takes its responsibility seriously to help limit the spread of COVID-19 through all means, including public gatherings. We will continue to work to maintain opportunities for everyone to enjoy the outdoors and it is more important than ever for everyone in our community to do their part to help keep our entire community safe.