November 6, 2022

The Sarasota Journal

Your community-based independent news source.

Sarasota eyes opening more amenities

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SARASOTA –– June 1 could be a date many Sarasota County residents are waiting for.

That’s especially true for the residents who participate in Yoga with Elin at Venice Beach, who haven’t gathered together since the county closed parks, libraries and other amenities due to COVID-19 until May 31.

Since then, the county’s been doing a phased reopening, but events, such as the yoga gathering, are still not allowed. And participants have bent the ears of Commissioners Charles Hines and Alan Maio about their displeasure.

The group’s Facebook page contains one post with 36 comments, all bemoaning the county for not allowing them to proceed.

“It’s a big beach and we can each be 10’ apart with no problem,” one person wrote.

Both commissioners mentioned the group during the May 20 commission meeting when Nicole Rissler, director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, gave commissioners an update.Nicole Rissler

Right now, Rissler is looking to reopen the athletic fields so the various leagues can resume play and has requested plans from each one on how they will follow CDC guidelines on social distancing. Importantly, she said, each plan must include details from the league’s sanctioning body, adding, “…that’s who has the insurance.”

Commissioner Christian Ziegler, mentioning his three young children, wanted to know when playgrounds would reopen.

“I also have young kids who are ready to burst out of not doing schoolwork anymore. We understand playgrounds are a hot topic,” Rissler responded.

Noting that congregating would naturally occur making social distancing impossible to impose, Rissler said that remained a concern, along with the gargantuan effort it would take to cleanse the equipment.

With 50 some playgrounds scattered around the county, Rissler said, “We need an army to be cleaning our playgrounds.”

As to libraries, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said they would remain closed at this point although the libraries director is anxious to see them open again.

Lewis noted the success of the curbside delivery program for materials will almost 13,000 items delivered to patrons so far. And with the differences in each library there can be no one plan that fits them all.

“It’s still under review,” Lewis said, “and we’re proceeding slowly and methodically.”


Warren Richardson
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