Virus Update: Recreation in Southborough – prohibitions, guidelines, and suggested activities (Updated)

by beth on March 19, 2020

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Readers have been questioning and debating rules and decorum on public fields and playgrounds. I sought clarity on the rules. I also pulled together some of the encouragement and tips residents are getting to safely enjoy outdoor time.

A communication from Superintendent Greg Martineau specified that all Southborough and Northborough school grounds are closed to the public, including fields and playgrounds.

[Editor’s Note: An update from the Town on March 20th informs that all Town playgrounds are closed and prohibits large gatherings on fields.*]

But  not all of Southborough’s fields and playgrounds are on school properties. Earlier this week, I shared that Recreation closed facilities and fields for organized activities. After I reached out, Director Tim Davis gave me an answer essentially the same as the following posted to Rec’s website today:

For clarification, currently, all field and outdoor facilities are closed to organized activities as permitted through the town – ie organized matches and games, sports team practices, pavilion rentals, etc.

We ask that residents use proper social distancing as recommended while in public around other individuals. Please monitor your children and be aware of where and how they are congregating and socializing. While we encourage you to be outside and partake in passive activities with your family, we will implement more restriction if necessary for the safety of our community.

On Rec’s Facebook page, they posted other encouragement this week to be safe while enjoying outdoor trails:

For a reminder of trails available in Southborough, click here.

Southborough Youth & Family Services is reminding people to get outdoors:

Chestnut Hill Farm is offering help in getting people outside. The farm’s Engagement Manager posted on Facebook: 

Chestnut Hill Farm Facebook postMore fun things to do with your kids! As you’d expect, Chestnut Hill Farm’s programming is cancelled for a while, but we still have so much for you to explore with your family…

– Every weekday on Facebook we will post a new nature activity you can do with your kids. Find them all in our Nature Activities photo album on our page.

– Every Tuesday and Thursday we’ll post “Life on the Farm” videos on our Facebook and Instagram Stories. You’ll also be able to find these in a FB photo album on our page.

– We have two miles of trails to explore, including our StoryWalk (a new story is going up next week, and we’ll be rotating the stories more frequently).

– Stay tuned for more free, social-distance-friendly fun on the farm, including a scavenger hunt!

– The farm stand is still open [via]* a new online ordering process and drive-up pickup that you can learn about in this post: https://www.facebook.com/thetrusteeschf/photos/a.272676466492282/867116697048253/?type=3&theater

See you at the farm – we’ll wave “hi” from an appropriate distance 😀

You can look for CHF’s Facebook posts here.

*The initial message stated that the farm stand was still open. A post today on CHF’s Facebook page updates that is now only available via online orders.

(images L-R contributed by Trails Committee, photo by Beth Melo, and Chestnut Hill Farm Facebook post.)

Updated (3/20/10 11:33 am): The latest update from the Town, time dated as of 10:00 am this morning, changes the status of Town-owned playground use and prohibits large gatherings on fields:

All fields are closed for large public gatherings such as practices and games. All school and town playgrounds are closed until further notice. We encourage people to go outside but please continue to practice social distancing and keeping at least 6 feet apart from people outside of your household.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 asp2020 March 20, 2020 at 8:20 AM

911 Field had people playing soccer on it Wednesday (adults not kids). Is that field still open?

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2 beth March 20, 2020 at 8:56 AM

It isn’t a Town owned field. It is owned by the state and leased by the Town with specific rules. My understanding from the past had been that it is only meant for organized practices and games – not allowed for casual recreational use. Therefore, I wouldn’t think that it should be in use.

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3 Interested March 20, 2020 at 10:15 AM

I saw that too. It made me remember that a few years ago my son and his friends wanted to have a pickup game of lacrosse. They all went over to the 911 field, but were ousted by a Southborough police officer. He told them that only organized sports were allowed there.

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4 southsider March 21, 2020 at 9:17 AM

Maybe it’s just me, but I am astounded that a police officer would chose to intervene in such a trivial issue without some other reason. Could there have been a licensed group who had reserved the field at the same time?

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5 beth March 21, 2020 at 12:16 PM

I heard of similar incidents in the past. My understanding is that under the state lease that any use outside of the permitted field times is considered trespassing on state property.

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6 Interested March 23, 2020 at 8:43 AM

It was a quite awhile ago so I don’t really remember the details. I do remember that the boys were sad that they couldn’t play and sad too that there was a perfectly good field going unused. I remember discussing it with them and we collectively decided that it must have to do with “liability” (to both the field and the unsupervised kids).

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7 Kate Noke March 23, 2020 at 10:49 AM

Probably better to be playing on grass instead of artificial turf anyway. These rules have always been in place since the field was installed. Don’t forget, a boatload of money was just spent to fix this field, so some oversight is probably warranted

8 Interested March 23, 2020 at 3:18 PM

Yes, this happened many years ago. However, I drove by there again this afternoon and there was a large crowd playing soccer. They were definitely “organized” as they were all wearing he same black uniform with a white strip down the pant leg. On my way back they were gone but a coach and a teen were working out there.

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