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DESTIN — Picnic tables at city parks have taken a beating in recent weeks by people apparently frustrated by the closure of gyms.
Since they are not among the types of "essential" businesses listed in the Florida governor’s "Safer At Home" executive order, gyms must remain closed through at least April 30. The order took effect April 3 and aims to help decrease the spread of the coronavirus.
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In addition, all beaches and some parks and park facilities in Destin are closed through the end of April. While city park playgrounds were closed April 6 until further notice, restrooms and picnic pavilions at the parks remain open.
Most people in Destin have been obeying the emergency rules and abiding by social distancing guidelines, city Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Firth said Wednesday.
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But unfortunately for other park goers, some people "have been utilizing our picnic tables as gym equipment," she said.
For example, Firth said some people have been using the wooden picnic tables to perform CrossFit box jumps, repeatedly leaping onto the benches and tabletops.
Unable to supervise the use of the tables around the clock, city workers removed most of them from the parks on Tuesday.
"We had been just watching them deteriorate," Firth said.
Besides dealing with the picnic table drama, Destin officials have had to take drastic action at Buck Destin Park on Legion Drive.
Because of groups of more than 10 people constantly getting together at that park’s basketball courts, staff took down the backboards and goals and closed the courts about two weeks ago, Firth said.
Norriego Point Beach Park has also faced growing challenges.
"Norriego Point is still an issue, especially with the boaters," Firth said. "Between law enforcement, code enforcement and lifeguards, they are having to tell boaters that Norriego Point is closed."
The problems aren’t consistent from day to day, however.
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"There are days when no one is there," said city spokeswoman Catherine Card. "On other days, there are a lot of boaters coming up, parking and going up" the beach on the harbor side.
For now, city officials have opted to keep city park restrooms open.
"The city wanted to provide opportunities for the public to be outside, enjoy the scenery and have use of the bathrooms to wash their hands and abide by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) six-foot separation and ’10 people-or-less’ guidelines," Card said.
Staff is sanitizing the bathrooms throughout the day, every day, until the parks close at dusk, and is patrolling the areas frequently to ensure the public is abiding by the CDC guidelines, Firth said.
As of Wednesday morning, Okaloosa County had a total of 105 coronavirus cases, with 24 of those being in Destin, according to Florida Department of Health information. Fort Walton Beach had the most cases in the county, with 37.
Below is a list of closures from the City of Destin
All organized activities are suspended at the following city facilities:
• Destin Community Center (101 Stahlman Avenue)
• Morgan Sports Center (4200 Indian Bayou Trail) (Walking Track and Multi-Use Fields Open)
• Buck Destin Senior Center (724 Legion Drive) (Tennis Courts Open)
• Destin Library (150 Sibert Avenue)
The following city operated playgrounds are closed to the public:
• Children’s Park at Morgan Sports Center (4200 Indian Bayou Trail)
• Clement Taylor Park Playground and Beach/Water Access (131 Calhoun Avenue)
• Buck Destin Playground (724 Legion Drive)
• Destin Sports Complex Playground (633 Kelly Street)
• Kell-Aire Nature Walk Playground (874 Kell-Aire Drive)
The following city operated beach parks, trails and facilities are closed:
• June White Decker Beach Park (1950 Scenic Hwy 98)
• Norreigo Point Beach Park (Gulf Shore Drive (Holiday Isle)
• Shore at Crystal Beach Park (2966 Scenic Highway 98)
• Barracuda Trail
• Calhoun Trail
• Crystal Beach Trail
• O’Steen Trail
• Pompano Trail
• Shirah Trail
• Silver Shells Trail
• Tarpon Trail
The following city operated parks and facilities are closed:
• Morgans Sports Complex (Gated Fields) (4200 Indian Bayou Trail)
• Dalton Threadgill Little League Park and Facilities (711 Hickory Street)
• Captain Royal Melvin Heritage Park (206 Harbor Boulevard)
• Clement Taylor Park (Beach/Water Access Closed to Public) (131 Calhoun Ave)
The following city operated parks, walking trails and facilities are open:
• Main Street Park (605 Main Street)
• Jewel Melvin Park (1999 Cordgrass Court)
• Kell-Aire Nature Walk (874 Kell-Aire Drive)
• Mattie Kelly Nature Walk and Pier (825 Beach Drive)
• Harborview Park (Beach Drive and US Highway 98)
• Joe’s Bayou Boat Launch (800 Beach Drive)
• Morgan Sports Center Walking Track, Multi-Use Field, and Disc Golf Course (4200 Indian Bayou
• Buck Destin Tennis Courts (724 Legion Drive)
• Clement Taylor Park (131 Calhoun Ave)
• Destin Sports Complex Walking Track and Multi-Use Field (633 Kelly Street)
• Nancy Weidenhamer Dog Park (4100 Indian Bayou Trail)
**Citizens must adhere to CDC guidelines – "6-foot separation" and "10 people or less"**