DERRY — How to keep the community safe while offering traditional summer month fun in the sun is on officials' minds as they work on ways to potentially open the town beach, parks and a popular watery spot
Derry's Parks and Recreation Department has had to cancel or postpone springtime events, athletics and other popular programs due to the coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19, but are hopeful some summer spots could safely open in the weeks ahead to allow families to enjoy the season in the sun.
The town's Gallien's Beach at Beaver Lake traditionally opens in June and is for residents only, but this year if the beach opens there may have to be specific rules and regulations in place to control how many people can be on the beach safely at one time, according to Town Administrator David Caron.
At a Town Council meeting May 5, Caron said the beach opening is among a list of recreation spots being considered for opening this summer.
Other summer traditions, like the free summer concert series in MacGregor Park, or the annual July 4 fireworks, would be more difficult to control as per the number of people that would gather, Caron said. Other activities remain up in the air as whether they can move forward or be postponed.
Another popular summer destination in Derry is the watery Splashpad at Don Ball Park off Humphrey Road. Every summer the water park area draws families from all over the region and even northern Massachusetts as the park is open to all, free of charge.
Caron said that area would be more challenging to open and control.
"It's wide open, there are no gates," he said.
Some officials wish the Splashpad could be for Derry residents only, but that rule would be difficult to manage.
"It's a push/pull at the Splashpad," said Derry's Public Works Director Michael Fowler, adding if the town wanted to add more physical security through gates or additional staff on site, that would cost money.
"And I don't know if we could pull it off this summer," Fowler said.
As for Gallien's Beach, Fowler said there are possible scenarios the town could put into effect to support safety while keeping people at a safe distance, including specific blocks of time for a certain number of people or modified hours of operation.
Fowler said the town will take advantage of the lack of springtime sports and programs to do some upkeep on town fields.
"Leagues aren't playing, we have a unique window to address some deficiencies," Fowler said.
Councilors approved funding to pay for projects including park roof replacement and playground work at Don Ball Park, and field work at O'Hara field, Vets, Buckley, Barka and Rider fields.