McKee Farms Park Splash Pad file

A group of three girls plays in a sprinkler at the McKee Farms Park splash pad on Wednesday, June 12, 2018. McKee Farms Park’s splash pad will not open for the 2020 season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of Fitchburg

Anyone waiting for the McKee Farms Park splash pad to open or hoping to participate in summer recreation programs will have to keep waiting until 2021.

The city won’t host its usual recreation programs this year, such as baseball, flag football and babysitter training, or open the splash pad this summer, City of Fitchburg administrator Patrick Marsh announced Tuesday, May 12.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, city staff are being extra cautious and do not want to start holding programming that would bring together large groups of people too quickly, he told the Common Council. As a result, the city does not plan to hire seasonal parks staff on the chance things are closer to normal part-way through the summer.

“We’ll hopefully be working, and having something in regards to the fall programming once school starts up,” Marsh said. “Given the staffing it takes and the maintenance, and all of the up-front work it takes for these types of programs, it doesn’t make sense to start them mid-cycle.”

The city’s parks will remain open, Marsh added, but bathrooms in those parks will be closed because of high chances of cross-contamination with potential illness. Any reservations for park shelters will be rescinded, as well.

Playgrounds at the parks have been closed already since March 25, when Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order went into effect.

Soccer and baseball fields will be open for patrons to use this summer, but while state limitations are in effect, Marsh said, social distancing will be enforced and there won’t be any organized gatherings through the recreation department. Tennis and basketball courts were closed as of May 13, but they could reopen if the state allows it.

Large events, such as Concerts at McKee, Fitchburg Festival of Speed and the Agora Art Fair held every August, aren’t organized by the city but are tentative based on COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the county and the state. Some events that are usually held in Fitchburg starting in May, such as the Festa Italia Italian heritage festival and Kids Building Wisconsin, have already been canceled.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.