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Reopening of Low-Risk Recreation Begins

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 05:07
Intermediate swim instruction will begin Monday in a free town-run program at Maidstone Park.
Jack Graves

A clear sign of Long Island and New York State's success in enduring the wave of Covid-19 infection in the first half of 2020 appeared on Monday, when the Empire State Development Corporation's guidelines on permitted outdoor, low-risk recreational activities took effect for regions that had reached or surpassed phase three of the state's four-phase reopening program.

During the East Hampton Town Board's video-conference meeting on Tuesday, John Rooney, the town's superintendent of recreation, outlined the Parks and Recreation Department's recommendations as to a resumption of activities.

The department closed the Amagansett Youth Park, the Montauk Skate Park, and the gymnasium at the Montauk Playhouse, suspended all programs and clinics, and removed all basketball hoops and tennis and volleyball nets from sports facilities upon the town's March declaration of a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since Memorial Day weekend, Parks and Recreation staff have served as 'beach ambassadors' at lifeguarded beaches, directing beachgoers and ensuring social distancing protocols and the wearing of face coverings in beach parking lots. With Suffolk County's Covid-19 infection rate hovering around 1 percent and Long Island's having entered the fourth phase of reopening yesterday, summer programs and clinics are set to resume, albeit in modified form, within state guidelines, and with 'some unique challenges,' Mr. Rooney said.

Plans follow state guidelines and have been reviewed and approved by Dr. Bruce Polsky, the town's medical consultant on reopening plans, Mr. Rooney said.

The sailing instruction program will begin on Monday at Fresh Pond Park in Amagansett. Social distancing protocols will be in place, with a maximum of two people per sailboat.

A free swimming program at Maidstone Park in Springs has been modified, offering only intermediate and advanced instruction because of the degree of hands-on instruction required for beginners, Mr. Rooney said. It begins on Monday.

Youth tennis and basketball clinics also begin on Monday at the Amagansett Youth Park, which will be open only to clinic participants. Previously, both sports were offered in the evenings, but this year tennis clinics will happen in the morning and basketball in the evening. Participants must take their own tennis racket and basketball.

There will be no passing or otherwise sharing of a basketball. 'Even though those are skills you need to have,' Mr. Rooney said, 'there are ways to work on skills and do things and stay within guidelines.' Registration can be done at the Parks and Recreation building on the Town Hall campus. Applications can be downloaded from the town's website and taken to a drop box there.

Tennis courts are open, with recommended protocols posted. Parks and playgrounds are also open. The town's basketball and volleyball courts, as well as youth and skate parks, remain closed.

Mr. Rooney asked that the board consider opening the Amagansett Youth Park for tennis, skateboarding, and its walking track, as well as the playground at the site, when the tennis and basketball clinics are not underway. 'We could have different parts of the park open or not,' he said. The board could also consider opening the Montauk Skate Park and allowing softball leagues to play, the latter a moderate-risk sport under state guidelines. 

All programs will undergo constant evaluation and be subject to cancellation for health concerns.

'I would support all of these,' Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said, 'provided there's follow-up and monitoring.'

Registration for town-run programs and payment by check is required. Forms may be downloaded at to be printed and completed. 

The town sailing program costs $225. Classes will be held through the week of August 17. Beginner and advanced instruction will be available at each session. Masks and sailing gloves will be required.

Payment and paperwork must be brought to the Parks and Recreation Department, which is in a building behind the Town Justice Court on Pantigo Road. Classes will be limited to seven people from age 12 to adult; class sizes could change depending on state guidelines. A copy of a birth certificate is required for 12-year-olds.

Registration for the town's intermediate and advanced-level swimming programs is also at the Parks and Recreation Department. The two-week sessions will be held at Maidstone Park beginning Monday, from July  27 to August 7 at East Lake Beach in Montauk, and from Aug. 10 to 21 at Albert's Landing Beach in Amagansett. The instructors evaluate swimmers' abilities on the first day of each session.

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