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Are park signs discriminatory? | Letter to the Editor

Series: Coronavirus | Story 104

Last updated 4/14/2020 at 6:05pm

Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department

I know we have weighty issues in today's virus environment, and I thank Edmonds and Snohomish County for its valiant efforts to keep us safe and informed.

While I applaud the decision to close down the playgrounds in our parks because it discourages large groups, the most recent "If you take a car, this park is too far" campaign from Snohomish County is very discriminatory.

We have so little to bring us joy and comfort, and being in the park has been one of those few pleasures. In the last three weeks, I have been in the park just about every day, and there are perhaps four cars at the most parked in the lot.

I drive because I have back issues.

Half of those cars I notice are elderly. Elderly couples or single elderly people I observe eating their lunch in their car, or those of us able to get out of our cars will sit at the lovely picnic tables by ourselves.

An ER nurse, sobbing in her car, said it was a quiet spot where she could find respite from stress.

Everyone is exceptionally mindful of social distancing, and I have yet in the last three weeks to see a crowd in any of the parks. People kindly smile at each other and wave from a distance, which brings a light joy to an otherwise difficult time.

The intention of this sign implies a discrimination against the elderly and the disabled, and that concerns me. Is the new normal now that only the young and able are welcome in our parks?

Or only those with resources who have the ability to buy within walking distance of a park are able to avail themselves of it during these troubling times?

If the logic is to keep people at home, then it seems Sunset Avenue should be closed. On Sunday, I drove by three completely empty parks. Then I drove by Sunset Avenue, which was filled with dozens of people.

The logic of this no driving campaign totally escapes me and smacks of discrimination against the elderly and disabled.

Carol Schillios


Editor’s note: The following is from a Snohomish County news release:

The Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism department today reinforced guidelines to help residents understand how to recreate responsibly during the pandemic and launched a new tag line: “If you take a car, the park is too far!”

A sunny day in Snohomish County reveals busy beaches, crowded trails and people parking illegally near parks. Many people are still traveling to parks, creating crowds and making it difficult to maintain social distancing in the midst of a global pandemic.

"By following social distancing guidance, we will be better able to protect our community’s health. COVID-19 can infect you anywhere you gather closely with others, including in our parks,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

“Social distancing seems to be having the intended effect, and we are not seeing a big spike in infection rates right now. If you take a car, the park is too far. If you take a walk, keep your distance from others."

Along with this new guidance, the department is also reiterating the current closures: Snohomish County park gates, playgrounds, and bathrooms are closed until at least May 4, 2020. All scheduled parks events/gatherings are cancelled or postponed through at least May 20, 2020.

These actions are to discourage travel, stop gatherings, and slow the spread of the virus under Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which has been extended to May 4.


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