Town begins cautious reopening June 1
News icon

News

Share: 

04/01/2020

Fort Williams Park closed to public until May 1

Fort Williams Park will be closed to the public until 6 p.m. Friday, May 1, 2020.

Town Councilors on April 1 authorized the closure as an amendment to an emergency order approved on March 25, and in support of Gov. Janet Mills' March 31 directive for all Mainers to stay home to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Councilors initially considered closing the park to only vehicular traffic, but some, led by Councilor Jamie Garvin, instead pushed to prohibit pedestrian access as well.

"It really pains me to make this motion," Councilor Jamie Garvin said at a special meeting held by videoconference. However, he said, consultants with county and state emergency management agencies, as well as local medical authorities, have all recommended full closure of the park "simply based on the number of people that have potential to congregate there," Garvin said.

Throughout the meeting councilors weighed the potential health risk against the need for residents to get out in an open space. Councilor Valerie Deveraux said, "I hate to close the park but I feel like it's going to be in the best interest of everyone if we go ahead and close it right now."

"I think we really need to be assertive, especially in the next couple of weeks," she said.

Councilors emphasized that the closure is temporary, and set 6 p.m. Friday, May 1 for the emergency order to end.

The park closure was the most visible amendment approved by the council on April 1. Draft amendments that would have made stay-at-home recommendations mandatory were rendered moot by the governor's order, but councilors did amend their March 25 order to require persons coming to Cape Elizabeth from another state or country to self-quarantine for 14 days, allowed to leave quarantine only for a medical emergency or care.

Another amendment adds homestays to the types of businesses expressly prohibited from operating during the emergency, in addition to short-term rentals.

Violators of Cape Elizabeth's emergency COVID-19 provisions will face a $500 fine.

Click here for text of the amendments and the videoconference recording.

In a related matter, Town Manager Matthew Sturgis announced that Family Fun Day, traditionally the town's kick-off to summer held annually at Fort Williams Park in June, has been canceled for 2020 and will resume in 2021.