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Cape opens beach, additional amenities

By Staff | May 5, 2020

The city of Cape Coral has reopened the beach at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, tennis and pickleball courts, dog parks, and some amenities at the neighborhood parks.

The reopening of athletic fields, the tennis facilities at the Yacht Club and the bocce courts at Veterans Park will follow.

The Cape Coral City Council, which has followed Lee County’s lead as it also opens its parks and recreation sites and beaches, voted unanimously Monday to allow more city amenities to open, though with restrictions.

Kerry Runyon, Parks and Recreation director, laid out the terms for the re-openings.

As of Tuesday, all neighborhood and community parks would reopen from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including the beach. Restrooms and parking lots will be open, but playgrounds and pavilions will remain closed. The parks will be monitored to make sure guidelines are being followed.

All programs, classes and organized sports remain cancelled, and pools, playgrounds, recreation and community centers remain closed, as does Sun Splash Family Waterpark.

The Rotary Dog Park would open, but no seating would be provided. The public may bring their own chairs.

On the courts to reopen Tuesday, a maximum of four players are allowed, with a one-hour time limit at Camelot, Joe Stonis, Burton and Jim Jeffers parks. The Yacht Club tennis facility will be open with restrictions from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 12.

In opening athletic fields, set for May 12, they will be open from 8 a.m. to noon and from 4 to 8 p.m. during the weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. A 10-person group limit and social distancing will be enforced.

No organized sports will be permitted and dugouts and bleachers will be closed. The Cape Coral Sports Complex will remain closed due to the facility being used as a Lee Health testing site.

Bocce courts at Veterans Park will also reopen May 12. Runyon said the date is so they can clean restrooms and get supervisors to come on board, which has been difficult because there are many unemployed contract employees who don’t want to come back.

“Of the 70 part-time employees we’ve called, only half want to come back,” Runyon said. “Normally we have 300.”

Guidelines from the CDC are to be followed, with the disregard possibly resulting in reclosure of the parks. Staff will continue to monitor and recommend re-openings to council on a weekly basis.

When Lois Welsh asked Runyon when the city can resume offering programs (and whether there will be summer programs), she answered a plan is in the works.

“We have summer camps at the charter schools and Youth Center which bring in 440 kids per summer,” Runyon said. “Since the schools are closed, we have a Plan B, which is nine kids to one adult and serve the city at 50 percent of what we do.”

The camps would be at Four Freedoms Park, Lake Kennedy and the Yacht Club and Youth Center. It would serve about 220 kids, Runyon said.

In related business, the council reached a consensus on creating a resolution to allow restaurants to open outdoor areas on parking lots as Lee County has done, with those restaurants being able start doing it before next week’s formal approval.

City manager said there is no mathematical restriction on outdoor dining as long as there is social distancing.

Councilmember Rick Williams was concerned that vehicles could collide with diners, creating a liability issue, but added that he was “getting tired of drive-thrus.”

John Gunter was for the resolution, but said he would like to see permits, parameters and inspections take place before this could begin, with safety being job one.