St. Louis County parks will close to stop the spread of virus

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Photo by Gloria Lloyd

Bicyclists enjoying the paved path at the new Cliff Cave Trail in 2018. Bikers also have the option of an unpaved trail.

All St. Louis County parks will close by 8 p.m. Friday in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, County Executive Sam Page ordered Thursday.

Despite the spread of the coronavirus, people had crowded county land and trails like Cliff Cave Park in Oakville since Page issued a stay-at-home order that went into effect last week that doesn’t allow anyone to leave home for anything non-essential, but allows outdoor exercise and walks.

The parks will remain closed through at least April 22 to correspond with the stay-at-home order.

Barriers were erected at county parks like Jefferson Barracks Park Thursday in anticipation of the closure.

“This will help us save lives. That’s our top priority,” Page said in a news release. “I had hoped we could keep the parks open but the spread of COVID-19 is too big of a threat to the health of our residents.”

The move is a response to some people who have ignored the nationwide guideline for social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.

“With warmer weather, our parks are becoming more and more crowded,” said St. Louis County Parks Director Tom Ott. “During this health crisis, we cannot allow large groups of people to be together in one place.”

Several steps will be taken to make sure the public is aware of the park closings. They include placing barricades at park entrances that are not already gated and electronic message boards on streets that lead to entrances of Creve Coeur Lake Park, Jefferson Barracks Park, Lone Elk Park and Grant’s Trail.

The county Parks Department will collaborate with Great Rivers Greenway to barricade and provide signage for the trail networks in county parks.

The primary mode of enforcement will be “goodwill and common sense,” the county said. But if needed, park rangers and the St. Louis County Police Department will patrol parks to ensure compliance.