City council provides COVID-19 updates


Another telecommunication meeting was held by Flagstaff City Council to discuss and provide updates that relate to the city's impending reopening under Governor Doug Ducey's newest executive order, which takes effect on May 16.

According to Governor Ducey's website, the latest order aims to mitigate the risk of the resurgence of COVID-19 by protecting vulnerable communities and guide the reopening of businesses with enhanced physical distancing.

Flagstaff City Manager Greg Clifton started the discussion by providing council with an email from U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Matt McGrath regarding potential reopening of certain recreational sites.

"We're looking at beginning a phased opening of our developed recreation sites, starting with some of our concessionaire‐operated sites later this month," McGrath said in the email. "We’re working with our concessionaire, Recreation Resource Management, to develop a plan to allow them to open some of the recreation sites that they operate, and they are in the process of developing safety plans and mitigation measures."

McGrath said the sites the Forest Service are thinking about reopening include recreational sites such as Upper Lake Mary and the Narrows with full services and fee collection. In addition, all single-family unit campgrounds will reopen, which includes Pinegrove, Ashurst Lake, Forked Pine, Lakeview and Canyon Vista campgrounds.

Vice Mayor Adam Shimoni expressed concerns over the impending reopening of recreational sites by the Forest Service.

"My biggest concern is the overall operations as folks are not taking this virus seriously today," Shimoni said. "There is still a possibility that we could see a second and third wave in the not-so distant future and I am concerned on how they will ensure the public's safety."

Jack Fitchett, management analyst for the City Manager's Office opened the council discussion on potential state legislation with an update from Governor Ducey's press conference. Fitchett educated council on the newly signed executive order by Ducey that goes into effect May 16, which allows for the reopening of gyms, pools, spas and sports leagues without fans.

Mayor Coral Evans shared the potential of reopening city parks after her executive order to close parks and city amenities until further notice April 8.

"In regard to city facilities, I want to look at reopening city parks as we continue to see visitors using those facilities and spaces," Evans said. "This has started to cause confusion and it has become very difficult to manage without a legal remedy."

Mayor Evans also expressed concerns over the cleaning procedures, especially in regard to the Flagstaff Aquaplex on Fourth Street as it is a challenge to keep visitors safe. Moreover, Mayor Evans recommended to keep public pools, soccer and baseball fields closed until the city reaches the 14-day decline in COVID-19 cases, as per CDC guidelines.

Councilmember Austin Aslan expressed concerns about the state reopening May 16, but declared support for any decisions made by Mayor Evans on how to reopen the city of Flagstaff.

"I am concerned about what the city of Flagstaff can control and what we should control to keep the citizens safe," Aslan said. "COVID-19 is presenting us with more questions than answers, but I have the strongest support for the mayor's decision."

Mayor Evans concluded the discussion on Flagstaff's reopening by asking councilmembers and city employees to be role models for the city by wearing face masks to help stop the spread.