Metro lakes ready for boating, fishing over holiday weekend but with restrictions in place

KC Comeback

Overland Park, Kan. — Memorial Day weekend is made for time on the lakes.

Thousands of people in the metro will head for local boating and fishing destinations, amid some changes caused by the pandemic. 

One big change in Johnson County, Kansas, involves the popular Shawnee Mission Park Marina, which won’t be renting boats this weekend.

Personal boats are fine, according to Rhonda Pollard, who works with the county’s department of parks and recreation. Motorized watercraft are forbidden at that lake.

“It’s making sure we have an entrance and an exit separate from each other so we provide that social distancing. There’s no better way to social distance than to get out on the lake,” Pollard said.

Pollard said the marina will remain closed to large crowds until June 8, as JOCO Parks and Rec officials continue taking precautions against spreading the coronavirus. She said face masks are encouraged for park users, but they’re not mandatory.

However, staffers at all Johnson County parks will be on the lookout for large groups that violate public health requirements.

Pollard said JOCO beaches won’t open until June 8, when they’ll be active on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“That sort of helps us crowd control this particular space within a busy park as it is. It keeps our numbers down so we can control physical distancing,” Pollard said.

Rental boats can be found just across the state line in Lee’s Summit. Longview Lake Marina will offer boats for rent.

Brian Nowotny, a spokesperson for Jackson County Parks and Rec, said customers at the marina officers are required to wear masks while they’re indoors. Nowotny also said park rangers will focus on large groups gathering on the decks outside marina offices.

“We want to keep that to a certain number — about 25 is what can be safely accommodated with that social distancing,” Nowotny said.

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