The Phoenix City Council has voted to reopen some sports fields and parks amenities on Sept. 10 after being closed to the public for months.
Athletic fields in city parks will be able to be reserved for games and practices, and restrooms near the fields will reopen.
The City of Phoenix had ordered the fields closed since April 2 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Parks and Recreation Department presented a plan to reopen during the meeting at the request of Council members Thelda Williams, Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio. The request was made during a meeting Aug. 28 at which they submitted a memo to the City Manager Ed Zuercher adding an “action item for vote”.
Tracee Hall, acting director of the department, presented a plan that would make the athletic fields able to be reserved. The reopening does not restart the city’s sports leagues, following CDC guidelines.
According to a Phoenix news release, outside organizations and teams will be able to reserve the fields if they agree to follow safety procedures: “including having spectators, officials and coaches wear a mask or face covering; maintaining six feet between field and spectators; and limiting the participants on a field to 48 youths or 24 adults.”
Hall said that teams and organizations must agree to self-monitor during their activities on the fields.
“This process will be enhanced by (organizations) having an on-site compliance person. In addition, we have rovers who visit multiple park sites during their shift,” she said.
Hall mentioned that city personnel would observe games and practices to ensure safety measures are implemented.
Phoenix was the only city in Arizona that had not yet opened up its parks.
The decision to reopen the facilities was not a unanimous one as council members debated over safety.
Councilman Carlos Garcia and Vice Mayor Betty Guardado asked for more time for public health experts to review the plan.
Guardado said in her own neighborhood of Maryvale she has two ZIP codes with the highest rates of COVID transmission in Maricopa County, making her nervous about reopening.
“I am not exactly sure how I would even see opening up Maryvale Park, seeing I have the highest cases in my district,” she said.
Garcia asked Zuercher when health experts would be able to take a look at the reopening plans.
The city manager estimated that experts would be able to provide counsel on the reopening plan by Sept. 16. Given an additional week for the Parks and Recreation Department to prepare, Oct. 1 would have been the proposed day of reopening.
Williams, Waring, and DiCiccio emphasized that children need to be outdoors for exercise and socialization. The Sept. 10 reopening passed 7-2.
“I think it’s time, and people can make the choice,” Waring said.
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