Under the approved motion, only the trail will be available for use at Lake Pflugerville come May 26. All other amenities, including the beach, boat ramps, pavilions and piers, will not be opened to the public.
McDonald questioned why the meeting was being held at "the eleventh hour" to deliberate reopening the lake ahead of Memorial Day weekend. He said that while having a discussion regarding its reopening was important, doing so the day before a holiday weekend was "erroneous at best."
"I’m looking at how staff had rumors that we might be making decisions, and so they’re trying to mitigate our decisions," McDonald said.
Mayor Victor Gonzales was among several council members in favor of reopening the trail system, adding that opening it would not create a major enforcement problem for staff.
City Manager Sereniah Breland said it was a more complicated issue than that. She said she had not initially wanted to entertain the idea of reopening any portion of the lake this weekend and that despite considerations of modifying the trail into a one-way loop, not all users are interested in completing the entirety of the 3-mile trail.
Breland also said that a central concern with reopening the trail is its enforcement. Penalties for usage of other portions of the lake are minimal, she said, adding that the only criminal violation residents could be cited for is trespassing.
“I think that we are negligent [if we think] that people aren’t going to go and hang out at the beach," Breland said. "It’s not just going to be the trail. We know that.”
Both McDonald and Weiss said that they were supportive of reopening the lake June 16, following the expiration of Travis County's stay-at-home order June 15. Under this proposal, McDonald said, staff would have appropriate time to fully vet any safety considerations.
Gonzales said that with Texas' phased reopening strategies underway, waiting an additional three weeks for the county order's expiration is not the most viable solution.
“The responsibility is on the individuals using that trail," Gonzales said.
Per the language of Gonzales' approved motion, the trail is the only area of Lake Pflugerville to be used prior to June 15. Come mid-June, the city can work toward rolling out phased reopenings for the remainder of lake facilities and amenities, Gonzales said.