HOUSTON - As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the Houston area the mayor has authorized the parks department to do what it can to try to keep the virus from spreading.
All amenities, including playground equipment in area parks are, of course, closed. While most people are keeping their kids away from the playground, entire groups of people are still gathering at basketball courts but now that’s likely to change. All 492 basketball rims in Houston parks are being removed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"This is a very real threat. Any of these decisions aren’t being taken lightly by the mayor,” explains Houston Parks Department Director Steve Wright. "Some of the basketball goals are actually welded on. So we’re retrofitting a steel lid that we’re putting over the top of these goals to discourage people from using those. We’re hoping that will help with social distancing,” Wright adds.
Wright says the hoops are coming down because too many people were ignoring the order to stay six feet away from others and crowding onto basketball courts. "We were seeing very large groups, not only playing but it was also drawing groups of spectators. Most of our basketball courts are in enclosed pavilions,” Wright explains.
As more people gather at the park because of all the COVID-19 restaurant and store closures, many parks are being littered with trash, overflowing receptacles and someone even dumped tires.
"We’ve reassigned staff to be able to assist with that but this is one of those external pleas to ask constituents as well, if you bring it into the park, please try to take it back out of the park".
Someone did take time to throw a City of Houston sign away. We found one in the trash after the city put up 1200 signs, reminding visitors of the virus and to stay safe at the park during the pandemic.
“People can continue to enjoy the great outdoors while still keeping social distancing. It’s unfortunate for the one or two people who want to go out and shoot a few baskets but everyone has to be on the same page and stay safe”.
The parks department has received a lot of complaints about aggressive dogs that are not leashed at the park. So Wright also wants to remind you to keep all dogs on a leash so everyone's experience at the park can be an enjoyable one.