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Cape Council to discuss limited opening of parks as well as farmers market

By Staff | Apr 23, 2020

Cape Coral City Council on Monday will discuss ways in which the city can slowly begin to reopen, beginning with limited uses at more city parks.

Council will again discuss the reopening of parks to walkers and bike riders only as well as talk about allowing the reopening the farmers market, both contingent on social distancing rules.

Coral Oaks Golf Course and Seahawk Park were opened this week by narrow 4-3 margins. Those parks, which officially reopened Thursday, have very specific guidelines regarding use.

After the close vote (without Councilmember Rick Williams, who could not vote remotely due to technical problems), Mayor Joe Coviello said he would again like to hear the desire of Council.

“I believe there is a safe way to do it. We’re not looking for masses of people to congregate,” Coviello said. “It will be for the people in the neighborhood who would use it. I believe they know about the CDC guidelines and will maintain distancing and wear masks.”

Parks to be considered for limited reopening include Giuffrida, Saratoga Lake, Four Mile Cove, Jaycee, the Yacht Club, Rotary, Camelot, Joe Stonis, Paul Sanborn, and Del Prado Linear.

The athletic parks with football or baseball fields would remain closed.

These parks would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for walking and biking only, with all amenities closed except for limited parking. No congregation of groups is allowed.

“The parking lots will be open because some people are older and can’t get from Point A to point B on foot,” said Kerry Runyon, Parks and Recreation director. “They can drive and park, but not congregate.”

“We will look at not opening the playgrounds or the doggie parks and other amenities will not be opened, nor will we talk about opening the Yacht Club beach,” Coviello said. “It will be for the residents who live in the neighborhood. Hopefully, people will follow CDC guidelines and get exercise while maintaining social distancing.”

Canoeing and kayaking at Sirenia Vista Park could be allowed, though following the same distancing guidelines which would be enforced by park rangers, city staff and police.

Runyon said kayaking will be discussed, although there is no guarantee.

For Coral Oaks, opening will take place in three phases for the golf course, pro shop and Knickers Pub. On the course, there will only be one rider per cart and golfers cannot arrive earlier than 20 minutes before tee time. The driving range will remain closed. Cups will be raised two inches above ground and people will not be allowed to touch the flagsticks.

The pro shop will have a single entry and exit point, with a maximum of four customers at a time, with payment by credit card only. Knickers and the clubhouse inside will remain closed during Phase 1. Carry-out at Knickers will be from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Only in Phase 2 will Knickers be allowed to open, and then only to 50 percent capacity.

“There are certain guidelines they’ll be following to maintain social distancing and keep players and employees safe,” Coviello said.

Seahawk Park, a venue to fly R/C aircraft, will ask members to stay home if ill, disallow spectators, only members and guests, maintain social distancing, store plastic chairs and cordon off benches, have a hand-wash station and post warnings at battery charging station.

The farmers markets will also be discussed.

Coviello said they could represent an opportunity for people to buy food, making it an essential service.

“If they’re selling food products, it’s no different than walking into Publix except it’s outside,” Coviello said. “We need people there to encourage keeping distance, but there’s an opportunity for people to utilize a food source.”

Runyon said the plan came from city staff and pretty much mimics what Lee County is doing when it opened its walking trails Tuesday.

City Council can modify its proposed plan if it wishes.

“The community needs a place to walk and bike since there are limited sidewalks. As long as they practice the CDC guidelines, I feel this will help their mental health, too,” Runyon said. “If people disregard the guidelines or of there are changes in cases upward, we could close the parks again.”

Cape Coral City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.