By Jeff Toquinto on June 11, 2020
On Monday, Governor Jim Justice confirmed what he had said in previous weeks. And that was that youth and adult sports with strict guidelines could resume in outdoor settings.
That proved to be an important announcement to the City of Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Recreation Complex is one of the most heavily utilized outdoor facilities in the region if not the state.
With the ban lifted amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, activities have begun at the facility, according to Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Director Joe Shuttleworth.
“I’ve been there last couple of nights and just watching everything. I think it needs to be stressed that we built and manage these facilities and spend careers to provide opportunities so we didn’t want to shut any of this down, but had to,” said Shuttleworth. “I think it also needs to be stressed we’re following the state guidelines and the governor’s directives through the entire process in an attempt to do the right thing and keep everyone safe.”
Shuttleworth said the city compiled guidelines, primarily established by the state, and applied them to their own facilities. The guidelines have been sent to various league officials and can be found HERE.
“We developed those guidelines in an effort to allow the kids and people to participate,” said Shuttleworth. “The ball fields are a little easier to deal with as far as social distancing, particularly with spectators outside of those facilities.”
Shuttleworth said steps have been taken as part of the guidelines to eliminate as much direct contact as possible. He said every effort has been made to properly space people out and still be able to enjoy being outdoors.
“So far, everyone has done a fantastic job. People are paying attention and I think a lot of why everyone is doing such a good job is that people are having fun seeing their children out playing and competing,” he said. “We are really encouraging people to follow the guidelines and have a good time.”
At the same time, Shuttleworth said the groups that utilize the facility including Little League, Patriot League, girls’ softball or anyone else, that the standard needs to stay in place.
“If people should start to ignore the guidelines, we can shut them down and the (Harrison County) Health Department can shut them down,” said Shuttleworth. “All we need is a healthy level of respect for the guidelines and it won’t be an issue for the health department. The good news is we’ve seen that respect and need to keep it up.”
Shuttleworth said barring something unforeseen, local teams will be able to compete in game settings as part of the governor’s plan to reopen the state soon. The date Governor Jim Justice has stated for actual game competition to begin for youth sports is Monday, June 22.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows the lock that was in place for months on the Bridgeport Recreation Complex. photo by Ben Queen Photography.