The Palm Coast Community Center on Palm Coast Parkway is reopening to the public on Monday (Sept. 28). Normal 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours will resume Monday through Friday, but programs will be limited at first, in what will amount to a phased reopening.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is extending invitations to select previous program participants to act as focus groups. They will provide feedback about the overall processes that have been put in place. The reopening is part of the city’s gradual reopening of its facilities. City Hall is reopening the first week of October, with the first City Council meeting open to the public scheduled for 6 p.m. The council last met fully in person, with the public in attendance, on March 10.
The community center closed on March 23, and at one point was on the list of facilities the city was prepared to lend to AdventHealth Palm Coast as an emergency, overflow center for Covid-19 patients. That never proved necessary even when the June and July spike in local coronavirus exceeded by far the April numbers. The current rate of new coronavirus infections remains double to triple that of April in Flagler County, with 218 cases confirmed just in the last two weeks, according to the state Health Department.
The reopening is nearly coinciding with revelations earlier this week that events at the Social Club of Palm Coast led to “superspreader” incidents that have contributed to the ongoing spike, with at least two deaths tied to those events there. Local Health Department officials said masking and social distancing rules were not properly followed at the social club. The city has a strict masking mandate in effect. It is not enforceable beyond its properties, but it is being rigorously enforced within them.
Visitors and employees entering the Community Center must be medically screened through temperature checks and a brief medical questionnaire. They must also wear a mask/face-covering in all common areas and where six feet of distance cannot be maintained between people.
“This reopening plan is something that our department has not taken lightly,” said Lauren Johnston, Director of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve made many changes to ensure a safe environment, such as protective glass and foot pulls on the restroom doors. We want to make sure we keep it safe and clean, while also providing our residents with fun recreational opportunities.”
The city is enforcing a new, one-way entry and exit at the Community Center, with handicap-accessible exits still available. When limited programming resumes, it will be offered in a block schedule format, to protect vulnerable populations and limit the chance of spread. No more than 50 persons will be allowed in the building at one time. Room layouts have been updated and will be specifically set to allow for social distancing. Staff continue to adhere to enhanced cleaning schedules.
“I am happy to see another one of our beautiful amenities open to the public,” said Mayor Milissa Holland. “The Community Center is so important to our residents and this safety plan protects our community while allowing these vital services to continue.”
To view the Parks and Recreation fall activity guide, including virtual programs, go here. Though recommendations from all three sources have been vague and contradictory at times through the pandemic, the city will update its reopening strategy in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the Florida Department of Health, and Governor Ron DeSantis.
The latest Covid city updates, testing locations and resources are available here, where residents may also submit questions or concerns to customer service. Residents may also call customer service at 386-986-2360.
Covid health-related questions or concerns should be directed to your regular healthcare provider or the Florida Health hotline at 866-779-6121. Covid business concerns should be directed to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 866-532-1440.