Tennis enthusiasts enjoy the court July 18 at the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Campus. The Southfield Parks and Recreation Department is offering many outdoor and virtual recreational activities.

Tennis enthusiasts enjoy the court July 18 at the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Campus. The Southfield Parks and Recreation Department is offering many outdoor and virtual recreational activities.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Southfield Parks and Recreation continues programming at a distance

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 21, 2020


SOUTHFIELD — It may look a little different this year, but summer fun is in full swing in Southfield.

Despite the announcement of the cancellation of all classes and programs that came in a May press release, Parks and Recreation Director Terry Fields said some programs and events have been able to continue by following proper safety measures.

“I think, basically, from when this started, the focus was really to keep our residents and our staff safe,” she said. “Our staff has been consistently working on programs based on what the governor is saying, and each time it changed, so did we — our decisions are based on the safety of our residents and staff.”

The governor’s stay-at-home order was lifted in early June, but Fields said department officials opted to continue with the cancellation of many in-person programs, such as day camps, senior programming, travel programs and all programming at the Sports Arena pool.

“Knowing that some of these restrictions have lifted and folks are able to go outside, we very much have a responsibility as a city to keep them safe when they’re travelling through our parks,” she said.

For example, residents are able to enjoy the city’s outdoor parks and the amenities they have to offer, such as playgrounds, golf courses, picnic shelters and walking trails.

“If you’re using our parks, our amenities are not sanitized, so really follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing and wear a mask when possible so you can keep yourself safe,” Fields said.

However, Fields said some facilities remain closed, such as racquetball and the sand volleyball courts. The tennis courts are open.

“Our community has been affected greatly here, and we really want to be able to make decisions going forward based on safety,” Fields said.

Russell Malburg, the city’s facilities supervisor, said that, in addition to taking extra measures to ensure outdoor facilities are safe, such as sanitizing restrooms three times a day, staff who work in the building are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms before they start work.

“Every time any employee enters our building, the first thing right out of the gate is we have a questionnaire asking about their symptoms, if they’ve traveled or come in contact with anyone (with the virus), and get our temperature taken,” Malburg said. “If you can’t properly answer one of those questions, you’re not able to work. Once you’re here, we have citywide-issued masks. We’re wearing masks all the time, especially now with the executive order. Any city employee is going to be wearing a mask during any interaction.”

Keeping the safety of Southfielders in mind, Malburg said officials looked at measures other communities are following and tweaked them to fit Southfield’s needs.

“We thought with how hard our area has been hit, it’s kind of a different world out here and a different demographic, and we don’t want to be status quo,” he said.

Recreation Programmer Cathy Fresia said one staple summer program is still happening, but with a different twist.

“Traditionally, we’ve done Recreation on the Move, where we go to different parks and we have a truck with different equipment and craft projects,” she said. “This year we’ve decided to do that program in a bag, so we put together different projects in a recyclable paper bag, and the first 25 kids that come to visit us will be able to take home one of these bags that are designed around a theme.”

Staff then takes to the Parks and Recreation Facebook page, @SouthfieldParksandRecreation, and posts a video with instructions on how to complete the activity. The program is sponsored by Denso.

Fields said staff have also been able to continue day camps, but with a different spin, called Camp on the Go, where campers can participate in activities through Zoom.

Office Supervisor Taneshia Springer said that for the most part, residents adapted well to the changes.

“Overwhelmingly, people have been understanding, and I believe it’s because of how this community has been affected by COVID,” she said.

To keep up to date on the programs and activities offered, Fields recommends checking the department’s or the city’s website,