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LaFayette reopens Parks and Rec

At its first meeting since the statewide mask mandate expired, the LaFayette City Council unanimously approved the reopening of the Parks and Recreation Department and the reopening of the police department, fire department and city hall to the public.

LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines has been pushing to reopen the recreation programs so local children have activities to do to keep them busy after school.

“The recreation committee was in favor of opening things back up,” Vines said. “If you look around us, a lot of our surrounding cities have never stopped their recreation programs — softball, baseball and even at the high school, the girls are still playing softball. I think we follow the CDC guidelines. Whenever we use one of our facilities, we need to make sure we have some guidelines in place and have some things in writing as well. I think everybody is pretty safe and knows how to be safe right now.”

Councilmember Terry Mangram set the motion, while Toney B. Thomas seconded it.

“I think as long as we follow the CDC guidelines and do what we’re supposed to do, I think we’ll be safe,” Mangram said.

While the council fully approved the motion, council members Shannon Hunter and Tammie B. Williams both shared concern for reopening.

“I have very mixed feelings about it,” Hunter said. “Chambers County’s rate is down and the state’s COVID rate looks good, but the country as a whole is still way up in spots, including Georgia. I’m a little worried about coming off too soon.”

City Clerk Louis Davidson asked the council how it wanted to handle the reopening of city hall, due to the lack of space to properly social distance the lobby.

“With our lobby area, there’s only room for one person if we’re trying to practice social distancing,” Davidson said.

Williams said only one person should be allowed in the lobby at a time. With only one person in the building, the council is going to ask the police department to help monitor the line outside the building, especially with the utility cutoff date coming up on April 22.

Since the pandemic started, citizens have been using the city’s dropbox in order to pay their bills in person. The city still allows the citizens to pay their bills over the phone or online.

“I think it’s working, but I think once you open up, you’re going to have people wanting to come inside to pay. I understand what the clerk is saying … I don’t think people will want to stand in line when they can just go to the dropbox,” Mangram said. “They’re already doing it.”

Both city hall and the recreation programs will begin on May 1, in order to give the city time to create its own guidelines for keeping the public safe.