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Town of Sylva will not reopen Poteet Park

Sylva leaders will not reopen Poteet Park despite Governor Roy Cooper updating the state’s executive order to allow playgrounds to open.

“The Town of Sylva will not be opening our playgrounds due to our lack of ability to safely clean and disinfect the equipment,” said Michael Morgan, Interim Sylva Town Manager. “We just don’t have the staff necessary to do the job properly.”

Playgrounds were first closed in March in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID19 and have remained closed throughout the summer. Governor Cooper eased some of the state’s restrictions earlier this month, allowing playgrounds to open. However, Morgan said the cleaning and safety procedures needed to maintain the park isn’t feasible with the town’s current staff.

Governor Cooper’s Phase 2.5 Executive Order reopened playgrounds but did not give specific details as to what requirements must be followed to ensure safety. The Centers for Disease Control, which NC routinely references, says that playgrounds don’t need any additional cleaning during COVID19 other than usual cleaning. The CDC actually recommends against disinfecting wooden surfaces, which makes up the bulk of Poteet Park.

”Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning but do not require disinfection,” reads the CDC website. “Do not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds- it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce risk of COVID-19 to the public. High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings should be cleaned routinely. Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (play structures, benches, tables) or groundcovers (mulch, sand) is not recommended. Sidewalks and roads should not be disinfected. The spread of COVID-19 from these surfaces is very low and disinfection is not effective.”

Although Poteet Park remains closed with locks on the gate and caution tape around most of the playground, as it is managed by the Town of Sylva, other parks and playgrounds in Jackson County that are managed by the county are opened.

Jackson County Recreation Department issued a statement via Facebook shortly after Gov. Cooper’s announcement on playgrounds reopening and cautioned the public to remain vigilant.

“All playgrounds will reopen Friday, September 4th at 5:00pm,” reads the statement. “Please remember to social distance and wash your hands after using the playgrounds.”


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