Enjoying the great outdoors and recreational activities in the city of Greenville can now be done with significantly fewer restrictions.
The city council voted 4 to 2 to lift suspensions issued to mitigate the COVID-19 resurgence and the mask mandate implemented under Ordinance No. 20-374 of July 10, 2020 Leave with other preventive measures measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
By lifting suspensions, the use of basketball courts, playgrounds, baseball fields and facilities as well as pavilions in the city park can be resumed.
These park pavilions include Frisby Park, Rounds Park, Schelbe Park, Archer Park, Maude Bryan, and Harty parks.
In addition, the council voted 4 to 2 for the approval of the North American Mid-Way Carnival to be held May 6-16 on the southwest corner of Greenville and for the Greenville Off-Duty Police to be approved as security serve and use their side issued by the city weapons and other equipment.
Ward 5 councilor Tasha Banks and Ward 4’s Lurann Thomas-Kingdom voted against both issues.
Steven Williams, Greenville Mall real estate agent, said, “We have had so many calls from local families wanting to see this and willing to take on a healthy role.”
“I don’t think this would be a great idea to do in the middle of a pandemic,” Banks said, citing safety as her main concern.
Williams told the council for this year’s Mardi Gras security would be doubled.
“All over the country they are starting to have functions, for example there have been baseball games at different universities,” he said. “And these people are really trying hard to adhere to the guidelines, and that is an economic impact for this company and this community.”
He added, “We have had tremendous success in our community with regards to coronavirus cases,” then approved the Mid-Way Carnival event.
The banks immediately put a replacement motion, but none of the motions were put to the vote until councilor Lois Hawkins, councilor of Ward 2, heard about the activity in some of the city’s parks.
“We didn’t open the parks and they have a lot of people there … I say we have to make a decision that we have to make if we don’t want to have people there all over the place in Greenville,” she said.
Thomas-Kingdom agreed that the council should be on the same side when it came to enforcing restrictions on the outskirts of the city.
“We need to be clear about what we are going to do about what is happening,” she told other council members. “Personally, I think we are not ready to open this city for different events.”
Interim Police Chief Danny Graise has been asked by Vernon Greenlee, Ward 3 city councilor, to share his main concerns about ensuring reliable security for the Carnival and the city.
“Our most important equipment is a vehicle with blue lights,” said Graise, referring to the effectiveness of police vehicles during patrol events like the carnival in the evening, especially the entrances and exits.
He noted that there had been incidents during a carnival that has been raised by security forces in the past, but the past few years have been “reasonably decent”.
Mayor Errick Simmons then advised the city council to bring up the separate agenda item related to the city’s parks in order to make a decision on them and the North American Mid-Way Carnival in the same breadth.
His recommendation was to keep the mask mandate as it helps protect others, keep businesses open, and grow the economy.
Park and Recreation Director Corey Holmes was asked for his recommendation.
“I’ve talked to other directors across the state and they even canceled mandates for people who are now going out in pavilions,” he told the council and the mayor. “Their basketball courts are open again, their toilets are open again, and they come in in the morning and clean up the courts, but they kept the mask mandate.
Holmes emphasized that it is currently the time of year when people really want out.
“It’s hard to control 75 or 80 kids trying to play basketball at Harty Park,” he added. “And you have organizations that want to do things, but we want people to be responsible for the events they have and know who to report to when things happen in the park, rather than just going out and doing without Gathering permission. ”
Brock then decided to lift the suspension of use of the city’s parks and facilities under CDC guidelines and other preventive measures mandated by the city.
Greenlee agreed to the motion and council members shared their final thoughts on reopening some of the city’s facilities.
Ward 6 Alderman James Wilson made his main concern, namely the violence that has been going on in the city recently, particularly with regard to firearms.
“My main concern is more violence than COVID-19,” he said. “We have to think about safety because nobody wants to get a phone call that their child has been shot or injured.”
The council voted on both issues, with identical results – 4 to 2 in favor of the removal of facilities and pavilions for city parks and approval of the North American Mid-Way Carnival.