Though the presence of local athletes may appear sparse, Tracy’s parks and sports fields are still open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Tracy Sports Complex on Tuesday morning, the usual activity of youth baseball, softball and soccer games and adult softball leagues, which have shut down for this summer, had given way to the relative quiet of occasional joggers and dog walkers, with a small group of neighbors gathered for conversation at one corner of the park.
Tracy Parks and Recreation Director Brian MacDonald said the city still encourages individuals and small groups to go to parks. The biggest challenge is to make sure people who want to use the city’s parks are mindful of the restrictions imposed by state and county quarantine orders.
San Joaquin County Public Health Services has given approval for sports groups to use fields including the Tracy Sports Complex, Plasencia Fields and Legacy Fields for conditioning and drills, but not for games or scrimmages.
Groups that do use those fields must get city clearance first by applying for a permit and then following guidelines for outdoor sports activities, such as requiring coaches to wear face coverings, and making sure groups are limited to 12 athletes, consistent with social distancing practices, as outlined on the county health department’s website, www.sjcphs.org.
“On our social media, we’ve pushed out a lot of information on what people can and can’t do in our parks,” MacDonald said.
Playgrounds and splash pads are still closed. But while the city isn’t renting out picnic areas to groups, folks are still allowed to drop by in small single-household groups.
Meanwhile, city crews are still active. MacDonald said that while the high-impact uses that drive maintenance activities have decreased, there is still plenty of work for them.
“They’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to make some renovations,” he said, adding that dugouts next to baseball fields have received makeovers, and irrigation systems have seen some deep cleaning that they usually don’t get. “They can do a lot of small projects that they otherwise wouldn’t have time for.”
MacDonald added that the parks department continues to field calls from people just wanting to know when they’ll see games start up again in town, and the best answer he has for now is that it’s up to state and county officials to decide what they will allow cities to do. Most likely, youth leagues will follow what the California Interscholastic Federation has decided on for high school sports, which will resume in late December, at the earliest.
“My guess is we won’t see any youth sports for a while if the CIF has taken that lead,” he said. “I totally understand that that people want to get out and keep their kids busy. We want to support that.”