Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

City plans golf, tennis reopenings


Little Rock is planning a “restricted opening” of its two public golf courses and tennis center this weekend, city officials announced Monday.

The Rebsamen and First Tee golf courses and Rebsamen Tennis Center, which were closed in March because of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, will reopen Saturday with new social distancing protocols in place.

Golf and tennis are sports that allow each player to keep their distance from others more easily than some other recreation­al activities, Little Rock Parks and Recreation Director John Eckart said.

“Two hundred plus acres of golf course obviously lends itself to spreading people out,” Eckart said.

Golfers will be required to book a tee time in advance by calling or reserving a time online, and tee times will be scheduled 20 minutes apart, rather than the usual seven minutes, to add to the distance between groups. Players will be limited to one person per golf cart.

Eckart added that “hightouch points” at all three facilities will be sanitized often and that parks staff have made some small changes to the golf courses to limit what people are touching, such as removing bunker rakes, flagsticks and water stations on the course.

The planned reopening falls at the end of the same week that gyms and athletic clubs across the state were cleared to reopen by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Those facilities were allowed to open their doors Monday under rules requiring customers to wear masks when not exercising and to stay at least 12 feet away from other people when they are. City-run recreation facilities were left to the discretion of municipal leaders.

Eckart said city officials are watching the governor’s announceme­nts on reopening, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and “evaluating all the informatio­n we can and making the right decision for the city of Little Rock.”

The city’s indoor recreation facilities, including Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center, Ottenheime­r Therapeuti­c Recreation Center and community centers will remain closed until further notice.

Eckart said the state hasn’t issued guidelines on aquatic facilities, so pools at the Jim Dailey center and Southwest Community Center, as well as the city’s three splash pads, will remain closed. The city plans to evaluate that guidance and make decisions once it becomes available, Eckart said.

The city’s playground­s and basketball courts remain taped off, and pavilion rentals are on hold. Other outdoor park spaces remain open, with the exception of six high-traffic parks that will close each weekend until further notice to prevent crowding.

Both golf courses will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Rebsamen Tennis Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The 9 p.m. citywide curfew was still in place as of Monday evening, though Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said last week he will likely adjust the restrictio­n in light of the governor allowing restaurant­s to reopen May 11.

Stephanie Jackson, communicat­ions director for the mayor’s office, said she did not have an update on the curfew Monday evening.

The planned reopening falls at the end of the same week that gyms and athletic clubs across the state were cleared to reopen by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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