As New Jersey flattens the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy has lifted some stay-at-home restrictions on residents, including the reopening of state and county parks.
In Bayonne, this wasn’t as groundbreaking as it was in the rest of Hudson County, as municipal parks have remained open to residents throughout the pandemic.
Mayor James Davis announced the reopening of Stephen Gregg Park on May 1. Stephen Gregg Park is a county park on John F. Kennedy Blvd. from West 48th Street to West 37th Street.
“Stephen Gregg Park will reopen for passive use at dawn tomorrow,” Davis said. “This reopening is in conjunction with the Governor’s new directive.”
While the park will be available again to residents, Davis gave a couple of notes about the reopening.
There will be no cars allowed in the park. According to Mayor Davis, his reasoning being he wants to keep the park open for passive use only. By prohibiting parking, the city looks to discourage potential large gatherings and active use of the park.
While the state of New Jersey and the City of Bayonne do not require residents to wear masks outdoors, residents may do so if they choose. However, masks are required indoors when shopping in any business.
Masks should be worn outdoors when social distancing is not possible, according to the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management.
Additionally, Mayor Davis gave an update regarding other park-related areas closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I will also refrain from opening dog parks and playgrounds just yet,” Davis said. “Here is my advice: Enjoy the park!”
Don’t get too comfortable
Mayor Davis is asking all residents to be smart and to use common sense and maintain distances while utilizing the park. While parks have remained open, Davis warned residents not to abuse the privilege.
“I’ve kept city parks open because there has been no abuse of this important part of our lives, however, I am imploring all of us to use them with care!” Davis continued. “Do NOT congregate.”
In May 2 video address, Mayor Davis reminded residents the three big parks in Bayonne were open but not to get too comfortable. It’s too early to do a victory lap just yet.
“Let’s not be the one who ruins it for everyone else,” Davis implored. “Keep your distance from other people, walk, enjoy yourself, and get some fresh air.”
Mayor Davis said he would give another COVID-19 video update on Wednesday, possibly including more information regarding the reopening of the parks.
Meanwhile, it seems most residents have so far followed Mayor Davis’s advice.
Captain Bayonne, back in action
As some locals flocked to the park, one person’s presence in particular demonstrated the optimism of some residents amid the dreariness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apparently, the reopening of the park was enough to prompt the appearance of a local icon and a constant presence at Bayonne’s many parades, festivals, and other events as well as Facebook.
“Mayor Davis announced the opening of Stephen Gregg Park this morning and it was a great sight to see Captain Bayonne back in action!” according to the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management on May 2. “Be safe all!”
Captain Bayonne, Brian Rocheny, has previously used his local fame to raise money for fire victims through the sale of Captain Bayonne T-shirts and mugs. His appearance marked a peaceful reopening of the county park in the city.
According to the Hudson County Executive’s Office, things went well in parks across the county.
“First weekend of limited parks re-opening proceeded smoothly,” the Hudson County Executive’s Office said in a statement on May 3. “Please keep up the good work to keep parks open, get more parks open— and still keep Hudson Strong.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.