Breckenridge Texan

City Offices reopen; special meeting planned for Tuesday evening about potential department closures, swimming pool

City Offices reopen; special meeting planned for Tuesday evening about potential department closures, swimming pool
May 18
22:27 2020

UPDATE: According to City of Breckenridge officials, the City Commission meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, has been canceled. The meeting has been canceled “due to citizen concerns and zoom,” a post on the Breckenridge City Offices Facebook page stated.

 

Original story:

The Breckenridge City Offices reopened to the public at noon today, Monday, May 18, after the COVID-19 test for a city employee came back as negative for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The results arrived just in time for officials to hold a special meeting about the future of the city’s senior citizens center, animal shelter, cemetery office and swimming pool.

The City Offices closed last week, pending the COVID-19 test of an employee who had been around a person who had the virus.

May 19 Meeting

The special meeting of the Breckenridge City Commission is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, in the Breckenridge City Commission Chambers, 105 N. Rose Ave.

However, because of the COVID-19 threat, in-person access to the meeting by the public will not be allowed. The public may access the meeting live via the Zoom teleconferencing service. The meeting may be viewed on the internet with video and audio or over the phone for audio only. To access the meeting, call 1-346-248-7799 or click the following link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81692971391?pwd=WE5UVXdlUXJSMVk5Z3R2TldCNzhVdz09&status=success

The meeting ID is: 816 9297 1391

The password is: 778520

The public will be allowed to speak to the commissioners via Zoom, Interim City Manager Houston Satterwhite said Monday evening. Anyone who wants to address the commission must sign up with Interim City Manager Heather Robertson-Caraway by email at hrobertson@breckenridgetx.gov or by phone at 254-559-8287.

The public may also submit questions that they would like answered at the meeting via that same email address. The meeting also will be live-streamed on Facebook, and the public will be able to post comments and questions there.

Robertson-Caraway said that the problems the city had using Zoom at the last meeting have been resolved and it should work properly this time. However, she still would like for citizens to submit questions in advance (via the email address listed above), so that the commissioners can be familiar with the concerns.

The agenda for the Tuesday evening City Commission meeting covers several items, including the following topics:

  • The Aquatic Center operations for 2020
  • Opening areas of the park – playground, trade barn, pavilion, etc.
  • The current 2019-2020 budget regarding the departments of Aging Services, Animal Welfare and the Cemetery Office

The agenda includes the city staff’s proposals and recommendations for the departments that are possibly going to be closed down.

Senior Citizens Center, Animal Shelter and Cemetery

After the regular City Commission meeting earlier this month, interim co-city managers Satterwhite and Robertson-Caraway explained that the current city budget needs to have about $500,000 cut from it. Just before he retired, former City Manager Andy McCuistion said that the city would need to close the Senior Citizens Center, animal shelter and the Breckenridge Cemetery Office. For more information, check out this previous article: Breckenridge co-interim city managers seek input for saving animal shelter, senior center

The proposals included in the agenda for the May 19 meeting rely on civic organizations to help deliver at home meals that the Senior Citizens Center had been delivering on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No mention is made about the meals served at the center or about the activities offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the center.

Additionally, the Stephens County Humane Society will assist with the animal shelter, which will keep a maximum of five to 10 dogs, according to the proposal.

For more details on the proposals, click the following link to download the agenda and meeting packet: 05-19-20 CC Special Meeting Agenda & Packet. The proposals for those three departments are on Page 13 of the agenda packet.

Swimming Pool

At the last City Commission meeting, the commissioners voted to not open the public swimming pool this summer. Since then, there have been some efforts to come up with a plan to open the pool with reduced hours.

However, in the agenda packet, the city staff highly recommends that the commissioners keep the pool closed for 2020.

Satterwhite said he is concerned about health issues, as well as budget issues, if the pool is opened.

“You know, that’s why you go there – to have fun. It’s kinda hard to control a bunch of screaming kids. …  I was one of them,” he said.

Dr. Kelli Windsor, who serves as the City of Breckenridge Health Authority, said the chlorine should kill the coronavirus, so if the swimming pool is properly treated, there shouldn’t be a health risk from the water. However, the benches, chairs, handrails on the slide and other things, like the diving board handrails, surfaces in the bathrooms and other areas, could be places the coronavirus could survive and somebody could get exposed to the disease, she said.

“In some ways, I would love to see the pool open and move forward, but I think probably the safest thing to do is not (open the pool),” Windsor said. “But we really don’t know at this point what the summer is going to end up looking like. We could see that the coronavirus starts kind of dying out and not causing so much trouble over the summer. We just don’t know yet.”

In order to open this summer, the aquatic center could only operate at a limited capacity, which would reduce the amount of income the city could bring in. Satterwhite said opening the pool would most likely be a money loss.

“Right now, I mean, money is tight, and the dynamics of everything is changing,” he said. “Trying to get lifeguards trained … it’s going to be a shorter season. My preference is not to open it right now, but the commission is the one that’s going to have to make that decision.

“With my current circumstances, I would say I do not want to (open the pool).  It’s just too much to risk right now for a little bit of entertainment,” he continued. “You know, parents can go to the lake right now and keep their distance from everybody.”

For more details about the city staff’s issues with opening the pool this summer, check out pages 6 and 7 of the agenda packet (see link in the previous section of this article).

Current local COVID-19 situation

According to Stephens Memorial Hospital, Stephens County has had 152 residents tested for COVID-19. There have been 149 negative results, 1 currently active positive case, 1 case in which the patient tested positive and is now recovered, and 1 pending case, still awaiting for the results to be returned.

Windsor said the resident with the currently active case has basically recovered. The city employee who was exposed to the virus has tested negative but will still be required to remain in quarantine for a total of 14 days, the incubation period for the virus.

 

Story by Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: On Sunday, Alex Borrego of Ranger, Marley Borrego, Dixie Ewing and Kayla Perez enjoy a stroll on the walking trail in the Breckenridge City Park alongside the city’s aquatic center. The City Commissioners voted to not open the pool this summer, and the topic is on the agenda for Tuesday’s special meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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