Virus claims parks, libraries
Bridgeview Park District among few open
By Steve Metsch
In an attempt to slow spreading the coronavirus, scores of public facilities are closing their doors around the nation
The Lyons, La Grange and Summit park district facilities are closed. However, the Bridgeview Park District is remaining open.
The Summit, Lyons, Bedford Park and Bridgeview public libraries have all closed their doors.
The Township of Lyons offices are locked to the public. Township employees are working there, and can meet you at the front door if you call ahead.
Most of the closings are through March 30. But many officials said that could be extended depending on how the fight against the virus is going.
This is all an attempt to curtail contact between large gatherings of people in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, an illness for which there is no cure, no vaccine and is sweeping the globe.
There have been 9,386 deaths worldwide as of noon Thursday, according to the CDC, along with 230,050 confirmed cases, and 86,256 people who have recovered.
In Illinois, the CDC said there are 290 confirmed cases with one death and two recoveries. America has 10,781 known cases with 160 deaths and 108 recoveries.
The Lyons Public Library’s last day open was Tuesday – as a polling place for the primary election – and it closed Wednesday until further notice, Director Dan Hilker said.
“It is what it is,” Hilker said. “Does a 76-year-old guy need to come in here to get his DVD and read the paper? We’re not dispensing medication here.”
The Bridgeview Public Library closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, Director Chris Sebuck said. “Barring any changes, we will re-open at 10 a.m. on the 30th.”
“There was a (library) board meeting on the 9th. At that time, the world was different,” Sebuck said. “When the schools started to close, the board decided to follow suit, especially when the governor suggested the school closings and social distancing.”
“Our concern was we wouldn’t be able to manage the (number) of children who would show up, too.”
Staff has been busy cleaning door handles and light switches, Sebuck said
“While we are closed, they’re going to do a hospital-grade cleaning, and clean the rugs and windows … It’s always better safe than sorry,” Sebuck said.
“The decision was not made lightly. We understand about the children needing someplace to go. But we (were concerned with) the safety of the patrons and the staff,” Sebuck added.
Folks can still go to the Bridgeview Park District which is still open as of noon today.
“No classes have been canceled. We have some programs running today,” district employee Anna Samaniego said Monday afternoon. “We are taking additional steps. There are two hand washing stations at the front door.”
The Summit Park District officials decided March 13 to shut down “for the safety of our patrons,” Executive Director Frank Torres said. All building rentals are canceled, he said.
“We’re going to hunker down together and ride this thing out,” Torres said. “If we can work together, we’ll put this virus at a standstill … It does feel like a movie. You go shopping and it’s kind of scary.”
“Obviously, we live in the greatest country in the world. I think we’ll be okay,” Torres added. “We will come out of this thing stronger, and be a closer community.”
There is no end date in mind. “We’ll take it day by day, week by week,” Torres added.
Staff will be in the park district office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer phone calls, he added.
While the park district will be closed for use, bagged breakfasts and lunches for school children of School District 104 will be available for pickup there from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays through March 30.
The limit is one lunch and one breakfast per student, for up to 250 each day.
The program is being operated by the park district and school district 104, said Martha Sonka, who is in charge of public relations and marketing for the parks.
Pickups will be offered at Graves Elementary and Heritage Middle School, at the cafeteria entrance, 6021 S. 74th Ave., Summit; the main entrances of Argo High School, 7329 W. 63rdSt., Summit: Summit Park District, 5700 S. Archer Road; and Bedford Park District Community Building, 6652 S. 78th Ave., Bedford Park.
Sonka is concerned about seniors who frequent the park district. “We’ve been calling our seniors, making sure they’re good and if they need anything. We try to do our part.”
Changes are happening fast.
As of March 13, La Grange was canceling classes but keeping open its fitness center and walking track. Fast forward to March 15, those are closed.
From the web site: “Due to recent events and public health concerns, the Park District has decided to close all facilities effective immediately (March 15 at 9 pm) until further notice as a public health precaution.
All programs, events, La Grange Fitness memberships, facility rentals, toddler play time gym, walking track, open gym, open pickleball and after school B.A.S.E programs held in school district buildings are canceled during this suspension of operations.
The staff is working on contingency plans for rescheduling programs and activities where possible. Information on potential refunds and credits will be forth coming.”
Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty said the village hall will remain open, but bills will be paid at the Police Department at the rear of the building.
The Lyons parks and recreation department’s yoga classes and kids spring break camp are canceled. The Little Hoops Basketball League, which was to start March 14 at The Max in McCook, has also been postponed.
“As we receive more information we will continue to keep residents updated with any further changes. This is not a time to panic but we can all play a role in preventing this virus from spreading,” Getty said in a news release
Looking ahead, Hilker hopes a planned fun promotion can be held in March of 2021. The Lyons library was going to have a March Madness competition among patrons, with 64 people getting one team each in the 64-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“I wouldn’t care if you were six years old or 86 years old. Every patron would get a team and they could in and check their brackets. The winner would get a dinner somewhere,” Hilker said.
Back in Summit, Sonka said she “strongly supports” decisions to close down services: “It’s scary, because we could be healthy, but we could be carriers and give it to somebody we love.
“Not everybody is washing their hands.”
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