BREMERTON — All parks in the city of Bremerton will be partially reopened this week, coinciding with the recent decision made by Gov. Jay Inslee to restore some access to outdoor recreation.
Beginning May 5, all walking paths and trails in city parks will be available for hiking, jogging, walking and nature viewing. Parking lots will remain closed — as are playgrounds, restrooms, athletic fields and courts — as the city is asking residents to continue to stay local, said Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler in announcing the openings last week.
As social distancing protocols continue, individuals are reminded to stay on trails and paths and remain six feet apart.
“To think we beat this and we’re done, that’s just not reality,” Wheeler said.
But the reopening of parks trails does represent an initial first step toward a return to normalcy.
“I think a lot of people are going to be happy come May 5 to be able to go down to a park, walk through and see some nature,” Wheeler said.
Residents still won’t be able to drive to parks, as Wheeler noted that some of Bremerton’s parks are regional draws that would surely fill up quickly and defeat the purpose of social distancing.
If I opened up parking, we would get a very large amount of people this Saturday,” Wheeler said. “We would get them Tuesday afternoon.”
And while not every resident may not have nearby access to a park, he did say that the city does have 36 parks in their system and that there may be residents who do not realize there is one close by.
Wheeler praised the residents of Bremerton for their efforts thus far in combating COVID-19. He noted that Bremerton has more apartment dwellers and more urbanized lots with small, postage-stamp sized yards than anywhere else in the county.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for what our citizens have done,” Wheeler said. “It’s been heroic.”
The mayor also acknowledged that some folks are certainly weary of staying home and patience for the statewide “stay-at-home” order could be waning. He agreed that steps should be taken to safely reopen, but also to be certain to make sure the virus doesn’t return in a second wave.
“If we do this right, we can emerge from this in a measured approach where we don’t rebound,” Wheeler said. “To do this long-term with no strategy, we know that’s not sustainable. You couldn’t ask people to shelter in place for six months like this.”