Opelika parks, recreation facilities slowly welcome visitors

Pictured right to left: Greg Stitch prepares to serve the ball over the net alongside Lauren Langford against Sharon Stitch and Jewell Langford during a family pickleball game.

Opelika’s city parks and recreational areas are welcoming visitors again, albeit on a limited basis for now.

“We feel that we provide a valuable service to people that not only improves their physical well-being, but also their emotional and mental well-being,” said Laura Leigh Chesser, public relations coordinator for Opelika’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Chesser noted that the department was concerned about how the senior citizens who usually utilize its facilities would handle possible “isolation and loneliness” as they temporarily closed.

Now, as public places like stores and restaurants begin to reopen with more-lenient restrictions, the department is slowly allowing access to certain areas and facilities.

The city’s disc-golf course, pickleball facility, Calhoun Tennis Center and dog parks have reopened. Parks and trails are also open, but playgrounds, basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields remain closed.

The city’s Sportsplex reopened Monday, with users restricted to the weight room, cardio equipment and the indoor track and subject to social distancing rules.

“We are waiting on guidance from state and local government to see what they will suggest, but we are busy coming up with solutions for the various scenarios we could see potentially happening,” Chesser said. “Whether they allow congregations of 10 or 20 people, or beyond that, we are coming up with different ways we can continue to serve people in a safe manner.

“We believe that some of the things we offer are incredibly valuable to citizens of Opelika, and we are very anxious to get back to doing that.”

Spring sports have already been canceled, but Opelika Parks and Recreation officials are planning for the summer and fall sports leagues, pending future guidance from city and state officials.

Residents looking to get active and get some sun have a few options to do so now.

Chesser recommends stepping outside for a simple walk around your neighborhood.

“We have several great walking tracks and trails in our area that are available for public use. We have tons of green space around the city that is the perfect space for an outdoor picnic,” Chesser said.

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