Recreation programs slowly coming back online

Shannon Rossi

Back in March, when Governor Whitmer first declared a state of emergency to help stop the spread of Covid-19, Southgate Parks and Recreation suspended all programs.

“The pandemic basically shut down Parks and Recreation for a few months,” said director Julie Goddard. “Trails, nature centers and those outdoor spaces remained opened. But the bulk of our programming was shut down, as were our buildings.”

The earliest program and recreation space to reopen was the South Winds Golf Course.

“Our Junior Golf Program has about 70 participants and several of our regular golf leagues have been running smoothly for the past several months,” she said.

South Winds also has a foot golf course, The Footie, that is very popular for outdoor socially distant play.

With recreational programs and buildings shut down, Goddard and the Parks and Recreation team developed ways to keep people engaged online.

As certain activities began to be permitted again, Southgate Parks and Recreation worked to begin programs that would allow for appropriate distancing and that would take place mostly or completely outside.

“Currently, we are only running women’s adult softball, youth and adult tennis and junior golf league,” Goddard said. “All of these sports are several weeks into their season and will be wrapping up in the next few weeks.”

Park pavilions at Kiwanis Park on Trenton Road, Lions Park on Reaume Parkway and Homer Howard Park in front of City Hall are available for reservations. Baseball fields also are open for reservations.       

“Right now we are only offering sports that can maintain social distancing, that have the least amount of contact and are held outdoors,” she said.

The Southgate Open Tennis Tournament is one of these programs. The tournament is set for August 14-16 on the new tennis courts at Southgate Anderson High School.

Divisions include men’s singles and doubles, men’s 40 and older singles, men’s 50 and older doubles, women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Junior players also may participate in adult open divisions. Players may sign up for more than one division.

The cost to register is $20 per player, or $10 for a doubles team if team members are not playing in another singles division. Weather permitting, there is a two match guarantee per division. There will be awards for champions and runners up. Tennis balls will be provided. Players can register by calling the Tournament phone line at 734-552-1214. The deadline to register is August 11.

Although the situation with Covid-19 remains fluid, the department does plan to run the fall adult softball program.

“We’ve chosen to offer these summer and fall sports because adults can understand the social distancing requirements better when playing,” Goddard said.

“We have given participants and team managers guidelines that need to be followed when playing. We have not restricted who can attend the games or events, but have asked that social distancing be maintained and that spectators remain in close proximity only to those that they live with.”

At this time, no decision has been made regarding other fall sports. The department usually runs fall soccer in conjunction with the YMCA, but that facility is still closed, except for their summer camp.

Other park projects and improvements also have been underway.

“We’ve continued moving forward with all of our Parks and Recreation Millage projects. The Welcome Center at the Dog Park at Lions Park is well under construction, concrete work will follow and then fencing will be installed. Watch for more information as this project continues,” she said.

Additionally, the new South Pavilion at Kiwanis Park has been completed. Great Lakes Live Steamers have begun running their trains at the park this month and will continue to do so, weather permitting.

“Many other projects are being developed and planned. More information on those will be coming out in the following months,” said Goddard.

The next step for Southgate Parks and Recreation is to get the ice arena and senior center open.

“Senior busing will begin on Aug. 17 with strict guidelines,” she said. “We also hope to get figure skating sessions and hockey conditioning back up and running next month.”

When the buildings reopen, masks will be required by anyone in the building, except for athletes when they are engaged in sports.

“Plans can and do change on a daily basis,” Goddard said.

All Recreation buildings have been outfitted with ample cleaning supplies and guidelines are in place for employees to follow.

“We look forward to a time when we can get back to offering our full line-up of recreation activities, sports and our senior center in a safe manner. We miss all of our customers and can’t wait to have them back in our buildings when the time is right.”

For more information on Southgate Parks and Recreation, visit southgaterec.com or call 734-258-3035.

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