Newest park gets official sign as parks reopen

June 17, 2020 — Last year, community members were asked to help name Florence’s newest park, located along the Siuslaw River along Rhododendron Drive (612 Rhododendron Dr.) with an initial 124 unique suggestions submitted by the public. 

That number was narrowed down to nine, which were part of a community-wide survey that included 856 total votes — with 439 of them voting for the park to be named Exploding Whale Memorial Park.  

With this November being the 50th anniversary of the exploding whale incident, as well as “Blast from the Past” chosen as the theme for

this past May’s annual Rhododendron Days, there had been initial plans for unveiling the park’s new name with a community celebration. 

However, COVID-19 precautions meant making the unveiling in a different way.

On May 14, the City of Florence hosted the Siuslaw River Beach Access Park Grand Opening and, this past Saturday (June 13), an official sign dedication took place.

With Lane County’s approval to move into Phase 2 of the Gov. Kate Brown’s reopening process, the City is following guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Governor Brown’s Framework for Reopening Oregon outlines phases for restarting public life and business through gradual, incremental segments based on science and the latest data. 

“The City of Florence is in regular communication with public health officials regarding COVID-19 and taking steps to limit the community’s exposure to COVID-19 in accordance with state officials and public health guidance,” the City said in a press release Monday, which explained that community members visiting local parks and trails may notice some differences. 

“We are happy to report that the skate park at Miller Park and the tennis/pickleball courts at Rolling Dunes Park are now open,” the City said in Monday’s release. “However, drinking foun-tains, basketball courts and playgrounds at all City parks remain closed. 

“The playgrounds unfortunately will remain closed until such time that the state releases its guidance on sanitation and disinfection requirements for playground equipment and play areas.”

All public restrooms at Florence-area parks, with the exception of Munsel Greenway Park, are open to the public and cleaned twice daily. 

Munsel Greenway Park’s restrooms, due to the remote area that it is located, will remain closed until further notice. 

Visitors to area parks are still required, under the governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order, to maintain 6-feet of physical distance between others.

Signs encouraging physical distancing are posted in prominent areas of area parks that are open for use. In addition, park users are encouraged to bring hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes for personal use on any surfaces touched. 

Park users will need to bring their own water for drinking since all drinking fountains in local parks are not available in order to comply with OHA guidance. 

“Florence Public Works would like to extend its thanks to the public for their patience as we navigate the rapidly changing guidance from the state on re-opening of our park facilities,” the City said in its press release. “We value our community members and will continue to provide updates to City parks and facilities on the City website”

Residents with questions or concerns can call the City of Florence Public Works office at 541-997-4106.