Denison is outlining the next wave of facilities following new guidance from state officials.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the latest businesses, attractions and other facilities that could reopen to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Denison plans for open within the guidelines laid out by the governor.
“I think as the governor announces adjustments to overall reopening plans for the state, the city wants to stay in line with those guidelines and return to normal operations and normal opportunities as much as possible,” City Manager Jud Rex said.
Under the guidelines for phase II, bars across the state will be able to reopen starting on Friday with limited capacity. Meanwhile restrictions on other businesses, including restaurants, have been relaxed.
Earlier this week, the city announced that it will be delaying the start of the annual Music on Main concert series by three weeks and moving the event to Forest Park to allow more space.
“I think what you are going to see for the first few weeks of Music on Main is that it is going to be a drive-in concert,” Rex said. While we will provide limited space for people to spread out, I think most people are comfortable sitting in their car and enjoying a concert.”
Later this week, the city plans to reopen many of its parks and recreation facilities to the public. The major exception to this will be city playgrounds and splash pads.
Under the governor's guidelines, youth sports can resume practice on May 31, with competition beginning in mid-June. Rex said that he has not spoken to area youth sports for their plans. However, some competition facilities have already been reserved in anticipation of competition over the summer. It remains unclear if these tournaments will still continue as scheduled.
Waterloo Pool will reopen to the public on a reservation basis starting on June 1. Rex noted that this will only be for lane swimming and organized exercise purposes.
“There will be no parties, there will be no open swim,” he said. “This is to accommodate our frequent users that include lap-swimmers, hydro exercise and aerobics work.”
Following the exercise trend, Rex said that Jazzercise classes will resume at the Denison SNAP Center. However, the center will otherwise remain closed to the public and no senior programming is being scheduled.
For the city, June will see a return of some normality as public meetings will begin to take place in person for the first time since March. Rex said the city council chambers will be reorganized to allow for social distancing.
“For residents that want to begin attending public meetings beginning in June, we will be holding those in person,” he said. “Residents that want to attend see things laid out differently. For our boards and commission members we will have safeguards in place to keep them separated on the dais and other safety measures there.“
In the event that a major item comes before a board, the city will open up overflow into the hallway. Rex said the city is also considering streaming meetings online.
With regard to the July 4th festivities, Rex said the city still plans to hold a fireworks show at Munson Stadium, but festivities may be reduced. The capacity of the stadium will be reduced to allow people to remain distant. Rex said the capacity will likely be similar to Denison High School's Graduation, which has also been reduce.
“We definitely want to keep the fireworks portion of it, the fireworks display. It just may be that we may scale back the concert portion and concessions portion of that.
More than ever, this Independence Day is going to mean a lot to people. Folks need a reason to get out and celebrate living in a free country like we do. So, we want to maintain the fireworks portion of that.“
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.