Chicago Report: Is It Time To Open Parks?

qLxBv1NFQK2GlOwFdmcD4AI am still in Chicago helping with my Mom who remains in hospice at our house on the Northside.  One thing that has brought joy to her is the blooming of her tree outside of her window. It is one of the small pleasures brought by Spring for many people who remain locked in during the pandemic.  I did encounter one dog however who shows that lack of freedom does not mean a lack of opportunity.

I personally found inspiration a few doors down from a dog that made the pandemic work for him. With the parks closed, side streets in Chicago are fairly crowded. This dog has learned to watch people approach and roll a ball in front of them. As soon as they kick it back, they are hooked (as I was) into an endless round of fetch. I have watched this dog for weeks ensnare strollers in a brilliant ploy for endless games of fetch.  He is a testament to confined canines everywhere.

The crowded side streets do undermine the logic of closing the nearby parks.  New York is facing the same problem and considering opening up streets (while closing them to car traffic) to allow greater distancing for people getting fresh air.  In Chicago, it may be time to consider closing certain parts of the parks while allowing people to use the great space for walking and exercise.  Otherwise, people will continue to do so in far more congested areas like the side streets.

Obviously, public health concerns must predominate and there are clearly major concerns to be addressed in a city with a high number of cases.  Chicago is approaching 50,000 cases and there are legitimate risks to be avoided.  Other cities are grabbling with these choices, including Minneapolis which just put some park areas under a new closure order. Yet, there is a serious public policy issue to resolve when park closures could have the unattended consequence of reducing rather than increasing social distancing. Experts are reporting that “quarantine fatigue” are leading to more and more people leaving their homes and defying guidelines.

There are also controversies in Chicago over parties held in defiance of the mayor’s orders.  My observations on the Northside (albeit limited) is that people continue to make efforts to socially distance and many are wearing masks.  However, more and more people are now going out and this means that people are moving into the streets to avoid passing close to others, creating a danger of being hit by cars. As these numbers increase, it may be worth considering opening up space for exercise while still imposing limits on gatherings.  People are already exercising along the edges of the parks in what seems rising numbers.  One option would be to open the park while keeping playgrounds, skate parks and other high-density areas closed.

Besides, I am interested in the next ploy of this dog if traffic slows down. Somehow I think he has a plan. Indeed, I am prepared to join his presidential campaign for 2020.

33 thoughts on “Chicago Report: Is It Time To Open Parks?”

  1. I’m so, so sorry about your mother’s illness. From one Chicago boy to another, I hope for you and your family to be able to find peace as you go through this process.

  2. The problem is that people either lack common sense, or they do not think that social distancing is warranted.

    Out where I live, I can hike for miles without seeing another soul closer than a quarter mile. Often we can go hours without seeing anyone, depending on where we go. However, there are some popular parks nearby and wildflower viewing areas. They have been trampled, to the point that entire parks were closed. I drove out to see some wildflowers, and was saddened to see so many trampled like a herd of water buffalo stampeded. If a flower is killed before it sets seed, there is no next generation for that flower. If the ground gets compressed, nothing will grow there.

    You can drive places in your car. You just have to limit contact to those within your bubble, the people you live with. If you can find a place outdoors where you won’t come in contact with people, then it’s safe to enjoy. But crowding in a park with a bunch of strangers is going to spread the disease, and get that park closed.

    It’s the bad apples who have ruined the parks for everyone else. They crowded and trampled and refused to keep spread out until the parks closed.

    Look at what happened in Florida’s Spring Break debacle. That was outside, yet a lot of people got infected with Covid-19.

    People are getting quarantine fatigue. Business owners are watching a lifetime of toil go down the drain. Middle class people are becoming impoverished. The poor are wondering how they’re going to make it, and staring at shelves still empty of flour and toilet paper.

    Granny was right. You should always have food put by for trouble. I have plenty of meat, eggs (of course, thank you fluffy hens!), beans, etc. But my husband still has to shop every few weeks for milk and perishables. That’s the glaring hole in my own preparedness. Having veggies frozen and I don’t know about the milk. Powdered milk tastes bad, so I don’t think my kid would drink it unless there was a zombie apocalypse.

    On another note, I’m so sorry your mother is ailing. She’s lucky to have her son by her side as she’s called home. This must be a very difficult time for you. You and your family are in my prayers.

    And thank you for the cheerful video of the brindle dog. He’s precious.

  3. Jonathan so sorry to hear this sad news.
    You wouldn’t be who you are without her guiding
    You are a shining light for many.

  4. Mr. Turley, Your mother and your family are in my family’s prayers. My mother, Mary Ghislandi, knows your mother from St. Mary of the Lake Parish. I remember well the speech you gave at the parish’s centennial celebration at Navy Pier.

    Warmest regards,
    Bob Ghislandi

  5. You are a wonderful son….one your Mom must be extremely proud of……
    ( I hope she doesn’t know you favour the Orange One, at times…..please don’t tell her.)😉

  6. My prayers and thoughts are with your mother, you, and your family at this time. A flower is a beautiful representation of life. It is about the journey and the memories. May the memories outlive the sunrise or the sunset. 🙏

    * Enjoyed the video of the clever dog.

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