Following almost a two-month closure in the wake of coronavirus concerns, officials in San Marcos will be reopening selected river and trail parks May 22.
Interim Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp told City Council members at a May 19 meeting that the decision to reopen selected parks was made after listening to the community’s input and working with regional and state partners.
“It’s become pretty clear that if we continue to keep our parks completely closed we will absolutely be [an] outlier in the state of Texas,” Stapp said.
The parks will be limited for active recreation only. Activities such as walking or “enjoying the river” will be allowed, but sunbathing and group gatherings will be prohibited, according to Stapp.
Parks will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. In addition, an entry and exit plan to access the parks will be put in place.
The parks that are set to reopen were chosen based on their unique access to the river and active recreational opportunities. Stapp told City Council members that the vast majority of riverfronts would be open to some degree.
City Council Member Maxfield Baker echoed his concern with reopening parks without having enforcement of social distancing.
Stapp told City Council members that enforcement personnel would not be the “social distancing police in this endeavor.” Instead, social distancing will be left to the public, with Stapp pleading that they take personal responsibility.
“Our emphasis for this program will be to ask the public to use good decision making, common sense and really take personal responsibility for distancing and things like that, and to not congregate in crowds,” Stapp said.
Though Stapp acknowledged that relying on personal responsibility would not always work, he argued that enforcing social distancing with police enforcement would not work, as national and state trends have shown.
“We all agree it won’t work. It will put them in a very difficult situation and potentially a very unsafe position. They will continue to do what they normally do when parks are fully open and address more serious ordinance violations and things like that,” Stapp said.
The detailed list of the parks that will be reopening will be released by the city May 20.