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Plano deploys monitors at city parks to reinforce social distancing

"We're not the police, however, we do have rules that we need to enforce," Kelley Crimmins said.

PLANO, Texas — We are all searching for space to stretch out our legs during this coronavirus outbreak. Being out in the open beats being crammed in our homes any day.

Cities are beginning to realize that residents are taking to parks for that physical outlet. In Dallas, overcrowding at parks led the City to close off  vehicle parking. That has somewhat limited the number of people heading to Dallas parks where trails remain open. 

One thing has become clear: social distancing is harder to enforce when people are on the move. 

The City of Plano is employing a different tactic. 

Wednesday, the City deployed monitors to most of its parks. The monitors consist of city employees who work in the parks department and library staff. 

WFAA met up with Kelley Crimmins, who is the community outreach specialist at Windhaven Meadows Park in west Plano.

"We're not the police, however, we do have rules that we need to enforce," Crimmins said.

Crimmins said she will walk the trails and give friendly reminders to people at the park of social distancing. It is OK for families to stay together but people need to be cognizant of those around them.

"I want to make sure they're going along on the trail and moving, and they're not blocking the trails," Crimmins said.

The larger parks like Oak Point Nature Preserve and Arbor Hills will have more than one city employee roaming the trails. The larger parks have seen large numbers specifically on the weekends. 

"There's plenty of space for everybody. We're just encouraging our residents to do the right thing," said Dr. Ron Smith, Parks and Recreation Director.

In Plano, dog parks are closed and so are sports leagues and practices. The City hopes this type of monitoring works and that people listen. But if it doesn't work and the parks remain packed, closing them is in the realm of possibility.

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