Friday, March 27, 2020

Photo of the Day: Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, Englewood NJ

In my hometown, Englewood, NJ, on the opposite east end from a pond I visited the other day, is another local landmark:  Flat Rock Brook Nature Center. I figured that the steep walk uphill from my house would provide me with healthy exercise, and that the sight of the park would refresh my eyes. Both proved true, especially the latter, as seen in the photo here.

At that late hour of the day, I did not want to hike the trails that wound through the 150-acre site. Nor, given widely circulated guidelines on physical distancing during the coronavirus crisis, did I think it wise to pass others on those narrow paths. 

Evidently, management of the park felt even more strongly. A sign warned visitors from entering, and yellow police tape prevented them from doing so.

In the current environment, “prevented” might be the operative word in that last sentence. A statement on the nature center’s Website noted that “With the recent significant increase in visitation, we have decided that adequate social distancing is a concern, so we have made the very tough choice to temporarily close our entire property to the public. We are obligated to do our part to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Public parks in Englewood have already been forced to make this decision, and we’re following their precedent."

Flat Rock Brook is a nature preserve and environmental center patronized the most by local residents. But the concern that forced its closure has spread to other jurisdictions. Earlier today, all parks operated by Bergen County were ordered closed

How realistic is authority’s fears that social distancing in these environments would be unenforceable? Last weekend, visitors in both Foschini and Johnson Parks in Hackensack were few and far between when I went there. 

But as the temperatures rise and more people stay away from their workplaces, how long will that underuse last? And for the unwary congregating on park benches and tables, there is no realistic way to sanitize these surfaces as constantly as needed.

In the meantime, citizens must endure another disruption to their lives. Being so close to nature without experiencing it at its fullest seems especially cruel when so many need tranquillity and beauty in their lives.

No comments: