SARASOTA –– It won’t be in time for this weekend but come Monday beachgoers to Sarasota County’s beaches will have access to the parking lots once again.
When county beaches reopened a week ago, it was with the proviso that parking would be off limits as well as bringing coolers, chairs, and umbrellas. County commissioners feared that opening the beaches up all the way would bring throngs of sun-starved residents flocking to the shores making social distancing impossible to achieve.
Now, that’s about to change.
“With other coastal communities reopening their beaches, there’s less of a concern of an influx of out-of-county beachgoers,” a prepared statement from the county indicated regarding the decision to open the parking lots back up.
“We just ask that you be patient over the weekend…as we safely remove those barriers,” Nicole Rissler, the county’s park’s director, said during a hastily-called press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the resumption of parking.
Over the past week the county faced a deluge of criticism over the lack of parking, with many calling it favoritism as those who lived near the beaches could walk or bicycle there while those living farther away struggled, often unsuccessfully, to find parking on neighborhood streets.
Sheriff’s deputies were issuing citations for illegal parking.
“Great! Thank you. Now––people–– keep your distance and do not mess this up,” Heidi Mph responded to a Facebook Live video announcing the decision.
While restrooms will also be open, concessions, playgrounds, amenities and picnic shelters will remain closed Rissler said.
Rissler also had other news to impart as well.
Tennis courts and pickleball courts in the county will open tomorrow, May 2.
In making the adjustments, Rissler urged residents to abide by the CDC guidelines on social distancing.
Further openings of other amenities would be forthcoming as the county uses a phased approach toward allowing access again to county facilities.