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Longboat Key Monday, May 4, 2020 2 years ago

Longboat Key Tennis Center to reopen with restrictions

The Tennis Center has been closed since March 22 because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The town of Longboat Key has extended certain closures, suspensions and cancellations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Public Tennis Center will reopen Friday, May 8 with restrictions. 

Town Manager Tom Harmer said the Tennis Center’s hours will be reduced and members will be restricted to singles play on a limited number of courts.

The courts at the Longboat Key Tennis Center have been closed since March 22 aside from some maintenance work.

“We will monitor the incremental restoring of access to the Center to make sure it continues to be safe for the players and the employees,” Harmer wrote in an email to town commissioners.

The town has notified members of the rules and precautions necessary to participate.

The Tennis Center will have reduced hours, only members will be allowed to play and every other court will be used with singles play only.

“With regard to the opening of the tennis courts, I think the procedure that we've adopted is appropriately conservative, and I imagine that will be expanded shortly,” Commissioner Ed Zunz said.

Zunz asked Harmer if the town is considering adding thermometers for people to check their temperatures before playing tennis. Harmer said the plan for reopening was coming together, and temperature testing was under consideration.

Chuck Henry, the health officer for the Florida Department of Health office in Sarasota County, recommended for anyone to stay home if they aren’t feeling well.

"We have looked in the past about temperature testing, and I don't know any of the latest updates, and maybe Chuck [Henry] can add to this," Harmer said. "When we looked at it before, you still have to be a little bit careful with HIPAA, and the fact that it is some type of medical exam. But I know that there are employers doing it and that we can do it under certain cases, certain scenarios.”

While temperature taking is a screening tool, it isn’t foolproof. Temperature checks don’t detect people who have COVID-19 but aren’t showing symptoms, he said. 

The Tennis Center has been closed since March 22. 

Beach access points, parking closed

Sarasota County public beaches reopened on Monday morning with lifted restrictions except for social distancing.

The county previously reopened the public beaches with restrictions on April 27, but parking will now be available. Chairs, coolers and canopies are also allowed on the beach. Manatee County also reopened beaches with about half-capacity parking in public areas.

 Harmer’s executive order keeps the following closed until further notice in Longboat Key: public beach access parking, Quick Point and Overlook Park parking lots, the town’s Recreation Center at Bayfront Park, the amenities at Bayfront Park and town facilities, including Town Hall.

The town of Longboat Key — which is in both Sarasota and Manatee counties — is expected to re-evaluate the order on or before May 15.

Lido Beach, which is owned by the city of Sarasota, also remains closed.

On Monday, Commissioner B.J. Bishop expressed her concern on Sarasota and Manatee counties reopening their public beaches.

“Are these communities taking seriously the guidelines that CDC has been put forward regarding getting these facilities reopened?” Bishop said.

“I believe that the majority of our citizens, whether they're in Sarasota [County] or Manatee County are taking serious those guidelines,” Henry said. “Mr. Harmer mentioned the beaches are open without restriction, but from my perspective, it's not without restriction.

“We're still encouraging groups of less than 10 and people to practice social distancing. And, if that doesn't occur, then we might have to tighten things back up again. Unfortunately, with this virus, we're always 10 to 14 days behind, meaning what happens today in a way of disease transmission, we may not see for seven, eight, nine [or] 10 days or maybe longer. So, we're [going to] have to really keep an eye over the next two weeks on what's happening there.”

Henry said he has concerns about Manatee and Sarasota counties moving forward.

“This is new territory,” Henry said. “There's no cookie-cutter blueprint that tells us exactly how to do this.”

Planning and Zoning Board to have virtual meeting

As of Monday morning, the town has not announced the specifics of the virtual Planning and Zoning meeting other than its scheduled date of May 26.

The Planning and Zoning Board has not met since Feb. 19. The pandemic prompted the cancellation of the March 31 and April 21 meetings.

"We're currently evaluating meetings beyond May 15, including the upcoming budget workshop scheduled for the Commission on May 18," Harmer said. "The next regular commission meeting is also scheduled for June 1."

Spoll misses meeting

District 2 Commissioner George Spoll did not attend Monday's virtual Town Commission meeting.

Spoll was returning home from the hospital on Monday after he had a breathing problem, Schneier said.

Monday's virtual Longboat Key Town Commission on Zoom.

Schneier said hospital doctors and staff prescribed Spoll some sort of "super drug" to aid his recovery.

Unlike April's virtual Town Commission meeting, Monday's meeting allowed for commissioners to visually see one another using the teleconferencing service Zoom.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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