The Town of Fort Mill voted Monday night to reopen parks in limited capacity, but playground equipment will remain closed.

“It’s with caution we move forward,” Mayor Guynn Savage said.

Town officials are expected to open parks, green spaces, trails and some fields. (See full announcement below)

“Town Staff will work to implement Council’s order to reopen green spaces beginning (Tuesday),” Assistant Town Manager Chris Pettit said Monday night in a statement. “It may take some time for staff to implement.”

Council members agreed that specifics are needed while reopening. Can groups play soccer? Will restrooms be open or closed? What about the baseball fields? Tennis courts?

The council debated all of those questions, leaning toward opening as many spaces as possible to give families options for recreation. They opposed opening restrooms, since that may encourage people to congregate instead of heading home after spending time in the parks.

The fear on opening playgrounds has been because they cannot be cleaned after every use. Those will remain closed with orange construction material around them, town officials said.

On March 16, the Fort Mill Town Council signed an emergency ordinance closing all Town parks and related recreational facilities in an effort to reduce the chance of Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading in the community. That order was set to expire this week.

Here is the town’s press release:

Fort Mill Town Council approved the reopening of public parks and greenspaces within the Town during its Monday night meeting, though playgrounds and indoor facilities will remain closed.

According to the ordinance, Council will open parks, greenspaces, trails, pathways, athletic fields and tennis courts, though social distancing measures must still be followed by the public and all state and federal requirements limiting the number of people who can gather in public still apply.

Assistant Town Manager Chris Pettit said the Town will begin implementing the order on Tuesday, May 12.

Council also ordered that all other facilities within the town’s parks and recreation system should remain closed until further notice, including public playgrounds, shelters, restroom facilities and indoor facilities.

“We would like to remind the community that we are not opening any of these parks and greenspaces for organized practices, events, or rentals, but solely for individuals and families to be able to enjoy the outdoors,” said Fort Mill Parks and Recreation Director Brown Simpson. “The community must also still follow any orders from the Governor.”

Council had approved an emergency ordinance in March temporarily closing all public parks and recreation facilities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and visitors during the COVID-19 crisis.

Also on Monday night, Council approved extending its emergency ordinance allowing Fort Mill Town Council and other appointed board and commission members to participate in electronic meetings, while also continuing its revised public comment procedures for the next 60 days.