Palm Coast and Flagler Beach governments are reopening a few of their more passive parks, trails and other outdoor amenities Monday while keeping major parks closed and maintaining a strict focus on safety and social distancing.
Flagler Beach is considering a cautious reopening of the pier in the next week or two, with initial allowances only for those holding pier passes, City Manager Larry Newsom said Saturday. Flagler Beach intends to reopen tennis and pickle ball courts in the meantime, and allow limited use of some walking trails, but not active parks and pavilions. The boardwalk on either side of the pier would remain closed.
“During normal times, the Department of Health-Flagler encourages going outdoors, getting fresh air and exercising for our physical and mental health,” said Bob Snyder, who heads th local health department. “The opening of our beautiful trails for walking, biking and running is welcomed news. The benefits of exercise can be practiced even while practicing social distancing during these challenging times.”
The two cities’ moves are part of the very cautious Phase 1 reopening of communities within safety parameters dictated by the coronavirus emergency, and reopening frameworks issued by the federal and state governments and adapted to local characteristics.
“If anybody wants to get this city back together and move things forward, I can tell you, all you have to do is talk with our city’s elected officials, they really want to do it, but it has to be methodical,” Newsom said.
Regarding the pier, he said, which has been closed for almost six weeks, “we’re going to take a hard look at it this week, and see what we can do, we may have to close off the very end of it.” New walk-on passes will not be issued. Fishermen who want to use the pier will be given a set of recommendations. They are expected to maintain social distances simply because of the nature of their activity. “At this point in time what I want to do is actually allow the people who actually have a pass to walk out there,” Newsom said.
“We do encourage people to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather. It is beautiful,” he said. But the success of the gradual reopening will depend on two things: residents and visitors abiding by distancing recommendations, and the department of health’s numbers. “If we start getting a large peak in Flagler County, I’ll be honest with you, it’s going to force us to go backward,” Newsom said.
Flagler Beach opened its city-owned, privately run nine-hole golf course at the south end of town late last month.
In Palm Coast, The following parks and their respective trails will open starting Monday, May 4. Hours will be reduced to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All restrooms, playgrounds and pavilions will remain closed.
- Bird of Paradise Nature Preserve
- Central Park in Town Center
- Graham Swamp
- Heroes Memorial Park
- Hidden Lakes Trail
- Long Creek Nature Preserve
- Palm Coast Linear Park/St. Joe Walkway
- Waterfront Park/Intracoastal Waterway Trail
The following recreational amenities and active sports parks to include the basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts remain closed.
- Belle Terre Park
- Community Center Park
- Indian Trails Sports Complex
- James F. Holland Memorial Park
- Ralph Carter Park
- Seminole Woods Neighborhood Park
- Palm Coast Aquatics Center
- Palm Coast Community Center
- Palm Harbor Golf Course
- Palm Coast Tennis Center
- All public restrooms, park pavilions, and playgrounds
Please continue to recognize the following guidelines in parks and along trails:
- Social distancing
- Maintain crowds of less than 10
- Wear cloth masks or face coverings whenever possible
- At-risk individuals should stay home
“I sincerely appreciate our residents’ patience and partnership in getting to this point,” said Mayor Milissa Holland. “We all play a role in the health of our community and we will all get through these unprecedented times together. I know how much our residents enjoy our amenities and I look forward to seeing them out there.”
“I encourage people to enjoy the beauty of our parks and trails in Palm Coast, to get some exercise and to experience the wonderful spring weather we’re having, but please observe all the guidelines that are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said Dr. Stephen Bickel, Medical Director for the Flagler health department. “It’s very important that we maintain our vigilance—this battle is not over.”