An iconic staple to Texas’s State campus, Sewell Park, is expected to remain closed for the remainder of the fall semester—a major adjustment for students and the local community dealing with the closure of most San Marcos public parks.
Sewell Park closed March 24 following a surge in Hays County COVID-19 cases and reports of visitors not social distancing.
Jayme Blaschke, senior media relations manager at Texas State, says that, so far, students and residents have complied with the university’s guidelines in regards to the park.
“[Sewell Park] will open up when social distancing and group gathering restrictions are no longer necessary to ensure the safety and health of the community,” Blaschke said. “At this point, it doesn’t look like it will reopen in the near future.”
Assistant Director of Outdoor Recreation Andrew Morreale says while Sewell is closed, the outdoor center connected to it remains open.
“The outdoor center functions as a low-cost resource for students, faculty, and alumni to [utilize] outdoor recreation equipment as well as access the river,” Morreale said.
Sewell Park is typically a popular hangout spot used by students, San Marcos residents and visitors from out of town. Natalie Morris, a senior and art education major, says she will miss the park this semester.
“[Sewell Park] gave people a place of social connection outdoors, and I found a lot of friends there,” Morris said.
Some students believe residents can be responsible without the influence of the city or university. Noah Kauffman, a sophomore business major, thinks the river parks should be open.
”[The parks] are outside, and people can manage [social distancing] themselves; the city and university shouldn’t shut them down. I think it should be everyone’s personal choice,” Kauffman said.
While some students have expressed frustration with the park closures, others, such as Wes Baldwin, a sophomore and art history major, feel the university is taking the necessary precautions to keep students safe.
“[Closing the parks] was the responsible decision. If [Texas State and the city] opened the parks, they would [be] telling students they think it’s safe,” Baldwin said. “All resulting COVID-19 cases would be their fault.”
For general information regarding campus recreation and park updates, you can visit the Department of Campus Recreation’s website.