At their Tuesday meeting, the Leon County Commission voted 4-2 to open up county parks for cross country events only. Parks will remain closed for other outdoor sports and athletic events. This comes after the closing of recreational sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox pushed to open up the parks to more youth sports but could not get the needed votes due to the concerns from other Commissioners.
Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desolge said I am having a hard time seeing how we do this and maintain that our mask mandate is legit.
Leon County Commissioner Kristen Dozier citing a COVID positivity rate of 15% said she was not willing to make a change.
Commissioner Jimbo Jackson said the possibility of an elderly grandparent getting sick from sporting events sanctioned by the Commission is not something he is willing to support. Jackson ultimately recused himself from the vote due to his job as a principal with Leon County Schools.
Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley said she did not see how to move forward given the current situation, “now is not the time.”
The motion to allow for cross country events was made by Commissioner Rick Minor and passed 4-2 with support from Desloge, Lindley, and Commissioner Bill Proctor. Dozier and Maddox voted against the motion.
Leon County is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening and response plan. Under this phase, the use of community centers and fields for team sports is prohibited, with intentions to resume organized athletic events under Phase 3.
The county released a status report on the use of parks for organized sports, which says that “consistent with public health guidance…the analysis does not support the reopening of County facilities for organized youth sports, playgrounds, or community centers” due to the fact that they promote the gathering of large groups within close proximity.
Protocols for the authorization of the cross country events include the prohibition of spectators, requiring all participants to wear face coverings when not actively competing, temperature checks prior to admission, and confirmation that all competitors, coaches, and other personnel have tested negative for the virus within 72 hours of an event with competitors from outside of Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, and Jefferson counties.
Also discussed was consideration for the economic factors related to reopening. These include the ability to collect facility user fees, sponsorship of athletic events, and overall revenues generated from the direct spending of visitors to the county.