Tucson parks, facilities to remain closed another three weeks

Tucson leaders plan out city's reopening

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As more businesses reopen, the city of Tucson isn’t ready to do the same just yet.

On Tuesday, May 19, the city council started discussing what reopening city-owned facilities and properties might look like.

Because Mayor Regina Romero’s Emergency Proclamation was extended to June 8, city staff will continue to work from home until then. After the proclamation expires, Romero says employees will still be encouraged to telecommute to the “greatest extent possible.”

“[We need to] really be rethinking what the new normal is,” Romero said.

In a motion, council passed a broad public messaging campaign aimed at “setting a positive example for the community.” Staff will use social media to promote practicing physical distancing and wearing face coverings in public.

The motion also allows the city to “acquire and distribute” face coverings to households without access to them.

“It really is not an expensive proposition, whether it’s a cloth mask or a bandanna,” Romero said.

Several council members also mentioned expanding coronavirus testing.

“I would like to see every city of Tucson employee have access to testing, whether they are symptomatic or not,” said Paul Durham, who represents Ward 3.

The planned reopening date is not set in stone.

“I feel that June 8th could potentially be aggressive just because of the things that need to be done to retrofit buildings,” said Nikki Lee, who represents Ward 4. “So, I just wanted to reinforce my understanding that we have to be flexible on this.”

All Tucson Park facilities, including recreation, senior and aquatic centers, ramadas, playgrounds, outdoor restrooms, and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts will remain closed at least until June 8.

No special event permits will be issued in the meantime.

According to the Tucson Parks and Recreation department, regular availability of sanitation and cleaning supplies is needed before reopening.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council member Steve Kozachik asked for an exception.

“There’s concern about swimming pools and things, but I would like us to see – to talk about opening Edith Ball; the senior aquatic center, by appointment only,” he said.

Kozachik said seniors suffering from osteoporosis would benefit from the reopening of Edith Ball Adaptive Recreation Center. No decision has been made yet.

When it comes to large gatherings, Kozachik also suggested going bigger than a parking lot to allow for more space and physical distancing.

“[Lets] talk about shutting down some streets - Congress or Scott or Fourth Avenue - for a while to let businesses do a car-free event with tents out,” he said.

When it comes to reopening, council members say a calculated plan is needed.

“I really embrace the notion of, ‘Let’s get this right and not go too fast,’” Kozachik said.

Discussions on reopening city facilities will continue on May 27.

Since there were so many questions brought forward by the public, the city manager is working on an FAQ document, which will be shared online.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.