Open space, parks, and trails in Montgomery County provide an essential respite for residents to maintain their physical and mental health. However, overcrowding and limited access to parks during the pandemic have challenged the ability to safely comply with social distancing guidelines. Not surprisingly, limitations placed on how and when existing open space areas and trails may be used have inspired an expanded vision of what recreation and “the outdoors” look like for the foreseeable future—and likely well beyond.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE OPEN SPACE “BOX”
A re-imagining of how open spaces can be used and shared is critical to accommodating increased demand and social distancing guidelines. In response, many communities across the country have adapted or repurposed outdoor spaces to facilitate uses beyond those intended to serve as open space for public recreation and outdoor access.
Cemeteries have a long history of being used as public parks and picnic spots. Cemeteries in our area, including West Laurel Hill and Laurel Hill Cemeteries, have been openly welcoming visitors to explore the grounds and enjoy a respite from busier parks and open spaces long before the pandemic.
“In so many ways, our cemeteries serve as a buffer to the anxieties people are experiencing as a result of the pandemic, and we are grateful to address these needs by keeping our 265 acres open to the public… . Rarely does a day pass without receiving a note of thanks from someone who is so appreciative of having access to our grounds.” - Nancy Goldenberg, President & CEO of West Laurel Hill & Laurel Hill Cemeteries.
Read more below about how you can safely socialize, exercise, and relax outdoors if parks and trails are crowded or closed: