Athletic fields, moderate-risk sports facilities reopen in Bellmore-Merrick


Athletes of all ages are now taking advantage of open playing fields and some indoor sports facilities.

During the first day of Express Lacrosse’s youth training clinic at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford on July 6, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced the reopening of county batting cages and 60 athletic fields, as well as the resumption of moderate-risk sports like baseball, softball, gymnastics and non-contact lacrosse.

The county’s parks department prepared 10 baseball fields, 37 softball fields and 13 multipurpose fields, with about 25 percent of those at Eisenhower Park. Leagues of all ages were permitted to resume play, and sports summer camps were also authorized to reopen.

“It’s so important for young people . . . learning how to lose is a great thing [and] learning how to win graciously is a good thing,” Curran said. “These are all taught on the sports field. It’s not just for kids, it’s also really important for our adults and for our seniors.”

According to the county’s reopening website, moderate-risk sports are described as having a “limited ability to maintain physical distance and/or be done individually,” and require that athletes avoid sharing sports equipment or disinfect between uses. Sports under this category also include field hockey, water polo, doubles tennis, relay swimming, racket games, crew, rafting, paintball and soccer.

Fields and playgrounds, including basketball and handball courts, are open at Newbridge Road Park, East Bay Park, Merrick Road Park and Julian Lane Park. Picnic areas remain closed. The pool at Newbridge is open to Town of Hempstead residents, but no swimming lessons will take place this summer. The dog park is also open. Guests are encouraged to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines.

Newbridge’s Ice Arena opened July 6, as well, with safety measures in place. Opening week was busy, general manager Rich Gardner said, noting that face coverings are required in all areas, except on the ice, and that the lobby has been closed off except for access to restrooms. A one-way traffic system is in place where all guests enter through the main lobby and exit through specifically marked doors.

For hockey clinics, players must come to the arena fully dressed but can put on their skates in designated areas. Only one parent or guardian is allowed inside the facility per player, and all spectators must wear a mask and stand in designated viewing areas.

All-American Gymnastics and Totnastics Too in Bellmore enjoyed a “fantastic” opening week, co-owner Ori Wilner said. “After being stagnant and unsure about things for months, it’s refreshing to have energy back in the building,” he said. “Kids and parents and coaches have reacted well, and we urge any parents with a concern to give us a call.”

The gym will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized constantly every day. Classes have been spaced out to allow for safer foot traffic, and the gym area has been formatted to create safe distances between children and coaches. Children must be able to follow instructions for social distancing, but are not required to wear a mask. Coaches wear masks and are subject to daily temperature checks.

Sports leagues have also established their own specific rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Jack Moran, one of the directors of Express Lacrosse, explained that practices would not entail competitive play and only include drills that allow for social distancing.

Joe Ditaranto and Bernie Rosen, who represent the New York Senior Softball Association, were also at Curran’s news conference and announced their season will begin on July 27. Ditaranto said NYSSA created a list of 12 safety measures to protect athletes, the oldest of whom is 93. Players must bring their own bats, wear a mask while not playing and refrain from personal contact, among other measures.