By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Park-lovers can rejoice at the news of one local recreational spot’s reemergence.
Following its closure in mid-March due to COVID-19, Gadsden’s Moragne Park will reopen to the public on March 1, almost one year later.
Located across from the Coosa River Board Walk, Moragne Park’s central location and premium services resulted from a $2.2 million remodel. The park offers a variety of activities that spark fun for all ages, including dual zip lines, a walking track circling a green space with competition grade lighting, three sand volleyball courts, a universally accessible playground, multiple picnic pavilions and restrooms.
Since the park’s initial closure, Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department Director Jen Weathington and her team have pushed to reopen facilities in a safe and responsible manner.
The department considers parks, community centers, trails and other facilities an essential aspect of community life, granting individuals and families the chance to unwind and escape the tedious whirlwind of the workweek.
“I think the park’s closure had a huge effect on the quality of life for people,” said Weathington. “Parks provide people with areas to enjoy peacefully, to recreate and exercise in their own manner – to just get that mental away-ness from your work day life, or just the stresses of the world.”
The parks department developed a plan for Moragne’s reopening, which it presented to Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton for the city’s approval. Though the park will reopen in a matter of days, regulations are in place to ensure the health and safety of all visitors.
Starting March 1, the park will be open for limited hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Rental blocks for pavilions are shortened, with rentals available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., then 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The space in between allows staff the time to clean the pavilions thoroughly.
Children ages 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the park. Signs will be posted throughout the grounds to remind park-goers to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing and face coverings.
Guests are asked to bring their own hand sanitizer, which will not be provided. In addition, park restrooms will close periodically throughout the day for proper sanitation.
Weathington encouraged locals to visit the park upon its reopening, sending a message to the community.
“I just hope [Moragne Park] is a place where the community can go enjoy, relax and exercise,” said Weathington. “I hope it brings excitement and happiness, so that we are returning to a little bit of normalcy. We maintain and keep the park up, but this is [the community’s] park. We want everybody to have ownership – treat it like they treat their own property, and have a good time when they visit.”
The Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department is seeking volunteers to help serve the community. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, call 256 549-4680.