Opening in phases… Local parks and facilities remain closed 

Published 3:49 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

STAR STAFF          
As Tennessee Governor Bill Lee continues to extend opportunities for more of the state to reopen after the COVID-19 Stay at Home initiatives, local officials are still collectively working to determine how and when to reopen the city parks to the public due to caution still surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.
Currently, the city parks and facilities will remain closed until a plan is established.
“We have weekly meetings via Zoom with the Tennessee Parks and Recreation Association discussing ideas and who is doing what in regard to how to proceed,” said Elizabethton Park and Recreation Director Mike Mains.
“We are working with other local recreation departments like Butch Patterson from Greeneville sharing ideas and making sure that we all are on the same page based on a lot of research so we can put a game plan together in a group effort.
“I have been working to put together recommendations to share with City Manager Daniel Estes and other city officials on how to approach what we are going to do.”
Mains said he felt confident that whatever is decided will be done in phases and is hoping that either by Tuesday or Wednesday of the coming week exactly what those phases might entail.
Some of those decisions could work hand in hand with how the opening of the state parks will work as some of the same types of facilities are utilized by both parties such as picnic areas and gazebos.
“At Kiwanis Park, for example, we have two small pavilions and one large one,” said Mains. “We will have to do what the CDC and other governmental agencies recommend that we can and cannot do.
“If they say there can only be 10 people together, there is not enough space for social distancing in the two small areas to really work. We are looking at all areas and just trying to work through this day by day.”
With there still being so many concerns about the COVID-19, Mains felt like the opening of the parks could possibly occur in either phase two or even phase three.
Another concern for Mains is how the city will deal with the opening of Franklin Pool.
“Another question that I have is how are we going to deal with opening the pool,” Mains stated. “Again, I have been talking with other recreation departments that operate pools and we have been sharing ideas.
“This is just one of those things that sometimes you just don’t know what to do.”
Larger scale activities for local parks and all sports leagues will more than likely be addressed in phase three as well.
For right now, Mains and local officials are working hard to provide direction for residents and hope to have information to share relatively soon as to when city parks and playgrounds can once again be used.

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