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April 4, 2020

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Bluffton council closes shelter houses and playgrounds

Based on recommendations from local health officials

Message from Ben Stahl, Bluffton council member
and park board member

During Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Bluffton council voted unanimously to close all village shelter houses and playgrounds, effective immediately and until further notice.

This was based on the recommendation of local healthcare providers, local public health professionals, and our understanding of the guidance from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health.

The current research indicates that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces--such as the stainless steel and plastic found at playgrounds--for several days, causing a time component that can negate the benefit gained from physical distance when many children come in contact with the same surfaces over the day.

Because we are not staffed to ensure that these high-touch surfaces are frequently sterilized, the only other option, for the safety of our residents and others who use the playgrounds, was to close them.

Bluffton is fortunate to have an extensive multi-use pathway system and miles of sidewalks for people to get outside, enjoy the changing weather, and practice the social distancing we’ve all heard so much about.

For families feeling cabin fever and looking to get outside their four walls, this is a good time to explore a new section of the Lion’s Way trails, visit the village arboretum, or take in the view of Cobb Lake. While the playgrounds are closed, there are many opportunities for exercise and fresh air in the village.

This is a very fluid situation and our knowledge is growing and changing daily. Most of us are operating outside our usual areas of expertise and are relying heavily on local, state, and national experts on the best actions to take for our specific situations.

Everyone is always trying to act in the best interest of our village; please remember to be kind to your local village employees and representatives, as you extend patience and grace in all your interactions during this time. 

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I often don’t have any more information than anyone else, but the only way we’re going to get through this is together.