English Translation - April 7

April 7

Mayor’s Video, April 7, 2020 - Staying Engaged - Staying Apart    

People of Holland, I’m your Mayor, Nathan Bocks

We have been living under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Alive order for several weeks.  This has turned into a marathon, not a sprint.  And a marathon takes planning, and pacing, and strategy, and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions.

The weather is getting warmer, the first blooms of Spring have appeared and you are getting outside.  Many of you are taking walks, running, and bicycling.  You have been using our parks and open spaces.

Last week we decided to close our park structures and playground equipment because it just wasn’t possible to keep them sanitized.  But we wanted to keep our basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts open because it is possible for people in the same household to engage in these activities and maintain social distancing.

We want our residents to go outside.  We want you to get exercise and fresh air.  It is good for physical and mental health.  Sunshine is good for your soul.  

We had great weather last week and our residents came out in force.  You were making use of the basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts.   There were so many people on the courts that even though they may have been 6 feet or more apart, it was impossible to tell if the players in a particular game were members of the same household.

And that created problems.  If a group were not all from the same household, it violated Social Distancing Rules and potentially put not only the members of the group at risk, but possibly others in the community as well.

Many were following the rules.  One family of five told me that they purchased Pickleball paddles and balls so as a family, they could use the court in a city park near their home.  Under the Governor’s order, it was okay for them to do so.

Even if everyone on all of the courts were following the rules, it appeared to other members of the community that violations of social distancing were occurring.  And we were flooded with reports.  This not only expended valuable police time, but created potential virus exposure to our first responders.

So we have decided to close the tennis, pickle ball and basketball courts.  For those who were using the courts within the rules, I am sorry.  To the family of five that was looking forward to playing Pickleball together, I am sorry.  We would have liked to keep them open, but after weighing the costs and the benefits, keeping them open just didn’t make sense.

Yesterday we started taking down nets and hoops where possible and have increased signage around the play structures.  They are all closed and should not be used by anyone at any time.

The parks themselves still remain open.  The vast majority of our parks are not fenced and have many entrances and exits.  It simply is not feasible to close the parks themselves.  The parks are open, but you still must follow social distancing rules.

You must not gather in groups.  You must remain at least 6 feet from anyone who is not living with you in your household.  It helps prevent the spread of the virus.  It helps protect you.  It helps protect your family.  It helps protect all of us.

You can still go outside.  You can still walk, and bike, and run.  Enjoy the sunshine and warm air.  It is good your physical and mental health. 

Do not congregate. Follow social distancing rules.  It is the best way to keep all of us safe and healthy.

We don’t make these types of decisions lightly. I want to thank our incredible first responders, city staff, and city council members for helping make these decisions.  They helped monitor the parks, weigh the options, and come to the best result based on the current situation.

We will continue to monitor parks and make additional adjustments if necessary.

There will come a day, hopefully in the not to distant future, when we can congregate again. When we can play basketball, and soccer, and go to parades, together again.

And as the weather continues to warm, you may be inclined to bend the rules.  

Don’t.  For the benefit of all of us, don’t.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

It is a long race, but we can do it. Together

 We will stay healthy and get through this by standing together, but six feet apart.

Before we know it, this will be over and we will be able to play pick up basketball and soccer together again.  But we are not there yet.

Until that day comes,

Stay safe.  Stay healthy.  And wash your hands.  ...Again.

This is Holland.  And we get to live here.