Meeting in the council chambers for the first time in a month, Brownwood City Council members decided on a tentative, cautious plan Tuesday to begin reopening city facilities following COVID-19 closures.
Council members and Mayor Stephen Haynes wrestled with the conundrum of opening recreation and meetings facilities to a lockdown-weary public — but not opening too soon and risking another outbreak.
After a lengthy discussion, council members agreed on a series of dates for opening facilities. City Manager Emily Crawford stressed that the dates are tentative and are subject to “applicable governor’s order.”
• May 15 — park restrooms open, to be disinfected once daily
• May 22 — Playground equipment and splash pads open. City will disinfect prior to opening.
• June 1 – Local sports leagues may begin practicing.
• June 12– Swimming pools open, subject to the pool liner installation complete and lifeguard training.
• June 15 — Local league play may begin in the Massey baseball and softball complex, but no external tournament play. (City will release guidelines for teams and spectators)
• June 15 – City meeting facilities open.
Mayor Pro Tem Draco Miller urged delay, saying “when in doubt, we need to do without. One case is too many and one death is too many.”
Miller said he favored delaying the openings until there are no more local COVID cases or the city “will run into a tragedy and we’ll be sorry down the road.”
Miller said he had family members in other states with COVID and said the virus is “no joke.”
Haynes replied, “I get it. I do.” But Haynes said he is growing increasingly uncomfortable with longterm government restrictions that infringe on personal freedom.
“These are not our facilities. These are taxpayer facilities,” Haynes said.
Haynes and council members discussed a potential “trigger point” of new cases that would cause the city to shut facilities back down.
While not pinpointing a definitive answer, Haynes noted that three new “community-spread cases would be a cause for us to re-evaluate.
“ … Freedom is scary, but freedom is freedom,” Haynes said.