By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER - Keyser’s city parks remain closed for now, and may remain closed through the summer, due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

The City of Keyser closed its parks, including play areas, picnic areas and ballfields, in March when Gov. Jim Justice implemented a “stay-at-home” order to help stem the tide of COVID cases throughout the state.

Not only did the order call for no gatherings of individuals, such as those playing on the basketball courts or gathering for picnics, but the city was also concerned about sanitation of the play equipment.

As of now, even as the Governor has been directing the multi-phased reopening of the state, parks and playgrounds have not been included, according to Mineral County Health Department administrator A.Jay Root, who attended Wednesday’s Keyser City Council meeting.

“As of right now, the parks and playgrounds have not been released,” he said. “We continue to ask about it, but even on today’s call (with the Governor) it is not something that has come up yet.”

Council member William Zacot, who serves as the city’s parks and recreation commissioner, said he had spoken to representatives of several surrounding cities and towns to see what they had chosen to do about their parks when the Governor does allow for them to be reopened.

According to Zacot, Moorefield will not be opening their pool, Hampshire Park will not be reopening, and others are slated to stay closed “for the duration of the season.

“One of the big concerns,” he concluded, “is being able to sanitize them and the social distancing.”

Root said the city, and the health department, have to follow the statewide ruling.

“We have in front of us what you can do and what you can’t do, and we have to follow the guidelines,” he said.

“I want to get the parks open as soon as possible, but it’s not our decision,” mayor Damon Tillman said.