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Cape Coral opens golf course, air strip, tables reopening city parks

Cape Coral City Council decided it will wait until next Monday to make a decision about reopening city parks.

Mayor Joe Coviello and council members are waiting to find out what Lee County commissioners decide about reopening county parks during their Tuesday meeting.

From inside their cape coral homes, in online comments, people ensured their voices were heard about getting outdoors.

The day’s debate was about whether Cape Coral would reopen city parks amid the coronavirus shutdown. City parks have been closed to the public for almost a month.

Online comments were read aloud inside city council chambers, where many officials wore masks. The flood of comments was read for half an hour.

Keep parks closed, some said. Many didn’t trust people will social distance, asking how all the surfaces could constantly be cleaned and saying they should stay closed if masks aren’t required. Some added it’s simply too early to reopen in the fight against COVID-19.

If the council decides to reopen parks next week, the city would not open up the parking lots, so the goal would be for people to walk in their neighborhood park.

“It think it’s a bad decision,” said Councilwoman Jessica Cosden during the meeting. “I think even if we say it’s for walking only, we will have crowds of people in the parks because people are desperate to get out of the house.”

But others argued it’s time to reopen the parks, a space to exercise while gyms are closed, a morale booster during a heart-wrenching time. People can still follow CDC guidelines while exercising in parks, and getting outdoors is important for mental health.

“It’s an individual decision or option for people to decide, do I want to go to the park or don’t I want to go to the park,” said Mayor Coviello during the meeting. “Nobody’s forcing to have to go.”

The council did decide to reopen Coral Oaks Golf Course with strict social distancing measures. Council also decided to open up Seahawk Air Park.

But the emotions about reopening parks ran so high on both sides, officials say people continued to comment long after the deadline to respond.

“I just don’t feel like we have enough of a decline yet,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Nelson during the meeting. “And, even though we’re going to leave people up to their own devices and their own choices, it’s a pandemic.”

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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