More crowded Capital Region parks close, lead to renewed social distancing calls


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Tuesday was a gorgeous day in the Capital Region. Many people were tempted to stretch their legs and go for a walk under the clear skies and mild temperatures to break up too much time stuck at home.

However, law enforcement says overcrowded parks and trails have them worried once again about the spread of COVID-19.

“Like yesterday for example, Thacher Park was a madhouse,” says Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

The recent nice weather lead many out of their living rooms and into the outdoors. Schenectady County Public Works confirms shutting down the Plotter Kill and Indian Kill preserves Monday because people refused to uphold parking and social distancing orders.

A statement by the Public Communications Department reads:

The County closed Plotter Kill and Indian Kill preserves to alleviate traffic concerns, enforce social distancing and to help reduce the load on first responders.

This past weekend the trails were full, and many cars were illegally parked on the road. The number of people on the trails was so high that social distancing become a concern. And local fire departments, whose resources are already stretched, are often called in to find lost people and help those who are injured there. This will help to alleviate their workload.

Schenectady County would like to remind everyone to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between people, when out in public, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Erin M. Roberts
Director of Public Communications
Schenectady County

While local city parks remain open, things like playgrounds are still surrounded by yellow tape.

“We just don’t have a high level of confidence that we can sanitize on an ongoing basis, so we want people to go out, to be able to exercise, to enjoy the good weather,” begins Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.

“Well, we do,” Sheriff Apple agrees. “But we also want you to keep your distance and that’s the problem. Yesterday, again, some of our state parks were mobbed, and I’m sure in a couple hours when I take a ride through there myself, I’m sure it will be wall-to-wall people.”

Sheriff Apple says while his deputies are roaming the public, they’ll give out warnings — not the fines Governor Cuomo suggests.

“I think people are just really just begging for some fresh air, and I get it! I don’t wanna be the person, again, that’s screaming at people to social distance,” he says.

He also adds he’s sensitive to the financial burden coronavirus poses.

“Some people are really suffering. They’re starving, not working, may not be able to get back to work right away when this is all over,” Sheriff Apple says.

Both he and Mayor McCarthy say they hope people will heed the warnings and practice better judgment.

“Unfortunately, it’s a flaw in the human character where people sometimes make poor decisions, use poor judgment, but we want people to get through this difficult and stressful time by again using common sense,” Mayor McCarthy says.


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