Play areas closed in city parks in Pratt

Fran Brownell
Yellow caution tape around the inclusive playground at Pratt's Sixth Street Park is up to keep children of all ages from congregating at that area, due to coronavirus spread concerns. City officials made the move to close play areas in all city parks at their meeting Monday via Zoom.

Pratt City playgrounds are now closed as a COVID-19 precautionary measure and will remain closed for at least a month, by order of Pratt City commissioners who affirmed the action at a special meeting Monday afternoon. The measure was reconfirmed at a joint meeting with Pratt County commissioners which immediately followed the city meeting.

City leaders dictated that parks will remain open for walking and other activities with social distancing mandates of ten people or fewer and six-feet apart in place. But play areas have been closed to prevent congregating that could spread the coronavirus.

The city and county meetings were held remotely as on-line Zoom sessions with Mayor Gary Schmidt and commissioners Doug Meyer, Don Peters, Jason Leslie and Zach Deeds, along with city manager Bruce Pinkall, city attorney Regina Probst and police chief Nate Humble participating.

Humble said extra police patrols have been set up and protocols have been established to enforce the new measure.

“We’re going to be handling things in a positive way,” Humble said. “We want to be cautious about how we approach people and be in a positive way.”

During discussion of city budgets concerns at the city meeting, city clerk LuAnn Kramer informed commissioners that most utility payments were being made in a timely manner, even with the commission’s decision not to turn off electricity and water for delinquent accounts.

Commissioners were told that the accounts that have currently become delinquent are ones that have a history of delinquency.

Door-knob delinquency notices will continue to be issued, but will not have a shut-off notification.

Commissioners also wrangled with how city services would be handled if there is a coronavirus outbreak in Pratt.

Mayor Schmidt asked Pinkall to develop a flow chart of responsibilities so business could continue without interruption of waiting for the next commission meeting.

“If two of us get sick, the commission won’t be able to do business,” Schmidt said.

Commissioner Meyer suggested that key personnel, including Pinkall, Public Works Director Russ Rambat, and Probst maintain safe physical distances as a precautionary measure.

Mayor Schmidt favored curtailing city expenditures for non-essential items, since city sales tax revenues will be reduced with non-essential businesses being closed.

While the novel coronavirus continues as a threat, city commission meetings will be conducted as public Zoom sessions, including the next regular city commission meeting at 5 p.m. Monday April 6.

Details on how to access the remote Zoom sessions will be posted on the City of Pratt website All are welcome to listen.