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Cape Coral reopens parks for walkers, bikers

By Staff | Apr 28, 2020

The city of Cape Coral has reopened its parks for limited use while keeping most amenities closed.

The Cape Coral City Council on Monday voted to open city parks for walking and biking as of 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Social distancing rules, which preclude gathering in groups, apply.

All amenities, such as playgrounds and pavilions, meanwhile, remained closed except for parking lots to allow those who don’t live within walking distance access.

Parks will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be monitored by city staff, park rangers and the police to make sure the guidelines are followed.

While the vote was unanimous, Mayor Joe Coviello was concerned, fearing that there could be overcrowding as a result.

Parks & Recreation director Kerry Runyon explained that staff did not want to discriminate against people who live too far from a park to walk or bike there.

Councilmember John Carioscia wanted to see pickleball and tennis courts opened because the games lend themselves to social distancing.

Runyon, though, said that there are usually many people waiting to use the pickleball courts, as they do with bocce and basketball, so they would not open at this time.

The Yacht Club beach will remain closed, as will Sun Splash Family Waterpark. Sirenia Vista and Eco parks will be open for kayakers, but there will be no boat rentals.

The issue of parks reopening was again a main topic during citizens input, with the majority of those who e-mailed in favor of opening them up.

Council also gave the green light to the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce to reopen the Farmers Market on Club Square in the South Cape, without a formal vote, again with vendors and shoppers following guidelines.

Councilmember Lois Welsh said the outdoor setting makes it safer than going to a supermarket and it offers essential services such as the ability to buy fresh produce, soap and other items.

The reopening will be very brief, as the Farmers market is only open until May 9. The market at Surfside would remain closed.

In other business;

* Council agreed to move the deadline up for e-mailed public input from 2 p.m. to noon. Carioscia said that with deadlines so close to the time of meetings, he has found it difficult to make time to speak with constituents who e-mailed.

People who want to speak in person can continue to do so.

* Council agreed to allow many volunteer committees to use council chambers to hold meetings, since other venues such as the conference room at city hall are small and don’t allow for social distancing.

The audit committee meeting was moved from May 13 to May 1; The Cape Coral Police and Fire Pension Board meetings were moved to May 26; the Charter School Governing Board meetings on May 7, 12 and 22, the May 5 CRA meeting, and the Hearing Examiner meetings on May 5 and 19 will be in Council Chambers.

* The Golf Course Advisory Board, Youth Council and Budget Review Committee meetings all were cancelled.