Fairfield’s trash pickup proves its parks are busier during pandemic

Two people take a break Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at Huffman Park in Fairfield. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Two people take a break Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at Huffman Park in Fairfield. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Cities don’t have many precise methods to track exactly how much residents use a municipal park.

Outside of actually witnessing an increase of park use, Fairfield Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Howard said they can also track use by how much trash is discarded.

And, during the coronavirus pandemic, Fairfield is seeing way more trash in its parks.

“When we get a good five- to seven-day weather pattern, we’re up to four days a week we’re emptying garbage from our parks,” she said. “That is an indication, a harder data-indication to us that our parks are seeing way more traffic — almost double — than what they normally see.”

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration have encouraged people to enjoy community parks during the state’s stay-at-home order, which has been in placed since mid-March and revised on May 1 to a Stay Safe Ohio order. The governor on Friday talked further about the state’s plans to reopen Ohio’s economy and guidelines for businesses to follow as businesses work toward normal operations.

But parks never closed, though playground equipment was blocked from use.

Howard also shared a COVID-19 Community Mobility Report from mid-April that showed as activity across the area dropped at retail, recreation, grocery and workplace locations, activity at parks increased 136 percent from Feb. 29 to April 11.

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When she saw the Google Analytics mobility report, she said, “Holy cow, that’s why we’re so busy.”

The data is collected from people who have opted-in to the location history for their Google account, so the data represents a sample of users, according to the company.

Though the snapshot was just on April 11, Howard said she’s excited to see the same report for the last part of April “with all this nice weather we’ve seen.”

That snapshot, however, won’t be available for a couple more weeks, she said.

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