The water was turned on Monday morning at three of the City of Buffalo's splash pads. They'll be available to the public daily, weather permitting, but operated with social distancing measures in place.
The splash pads at MLK Park, Centennial Park and Roosevelt Park will be open daily, including weekends, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Labor Day.
"We picked those three because they're so big and you can social distance within them," said the city's parks commissioner, Michael Finn. "For example, MLK, it's enormous. We can tell the first family that comes up, alright, you go to that splash, that section of the splash pad. The next family will go to the other one. When they're done, they'll keep cycling in and out. That way, we're able to monitor the social distancing, and keep everyone safe."
All three pads will be staffed with city employees and security to guide visitors and make sure each facility does not exceed capacity. Where necessary, fences or blockades are set up to limit access points to ones that are staffed.
Most recreational facilities fall under Phase Four of New York State's COVID-related reopening strategy, Forward NY. But Governor Andrew Cuomo did grant local governments the ability to open pools and splash pads when they felt prepared. Could more be opened?
"That's something we'll be looking at throughout the summer," Finn answered. "These three lend themselves to social distancing by their construction. We'll be looking at the other ones throughout the summer to determine if they can be adjusted for social distancing compliance. But this was the low hanging fruit and it's hot today. So we wanted to make sure and get out and open them right away."