Online school has ended for the year and families have begun celebrating a traditional summer in Sammamish, or at least trying to. Many have decided to cross the lockdown threshold by visiting the many parks around the city, such as Pine Lake Park, the Sammamish Landing Park and Beaver Lake Park. However, the large number of visitors at these locations does not mean they are entirely open without restriction.
“There are amenities within all City parks that will continue to remain closed due to higher COVID-19 transmission risk factors and the difficulty of maintaining social distancing considerations,” Chris Jordan, the City of Sammamish’s recreation manager, said.
Although larger gatherings are currently prohibited at all parks, the parks were never completely closed, and have slowly opened to the public as Governor Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan progresses. Athletic fields, courts, dog parks, trails and fishing at the beaches located at Sammamish Landing and Beaver Lake have now opened for the public to enjoy.
“With good planning and cleaning strategies, restrooms and pedestrian / bicycle access were available to all City of Sammamish parks and trails in phase one,” Jordan said. “As we moved into the modified phase 1 ½ and the current phase 2, additional amenities were made available.”
However, until King County gets to phase 3, many services will remain closed for all Sammamish parkgoers. Locations such as Pine Lake Park, both docks at Sammamish Landing and Pine Lake, all playgrounds, and the Sammamish Commons Skate Park will remain closed.
Despite the closure of several amenities, families and teenagers are still flocking to the parks’ docks and fields almost every time the sun dissipates Sammamish’s gloomy clouds, sometimes skirting the rules.
Seventeen-year-olds Dallin Bishopp, Samuel Jayagaran and Henry Rouse believe that it should be okay to do so.
“I think that it’s a half-measure to make it look like they’re trying to take action,” Bishopp said. “But honestly, if people are outside and being healthy and trying to exercise, and not touching each other, then they should open the parks up.”
Jayagaran also disagreed with the City’s cautious approach.
“In a park, it’s an open area, you’re not going up close to someone,” Jayagaran said. “The whole six feet thing, you have to be speaking, almost projecting back into their face, for that to be a concern, and most people aren’t doing that.”
Rouse, on the other hand, has mixed feelings regarding the restrictions.
“For the health of the community, I’d say keep them closed,” Rouse said. “But for the health of people’s enjoyment, I would say keep them open, so it depends.”
Despite the growing demand for unrestricted park access during the summer, the Sammamish City Council doubled down on these restrictions by unanimously passed an ordinance on July 21 allowing police to enforce closure and rules signage at parks. This includes the ability to issue tickets violations, including to those who climb barricades to use facilities. The ordinance is considered another tool for police to use, in addition to verbal warnings asking for violators to leave. Tickets can go up to $500.