TATA tennis tourney

In this 2019 file photo, more than 200 players came to Taylor during the May 18-19 weekend to compete in the annual TATA Tennis tournament.

After citizen comments followed by more than an hour of discussion Thursday night, Taylor's municipal government has reopened city recreational fields for youth sports leagues and the tennis court in Murphy Park.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the Taylor City Council gave direction to city staff to reopen those facilities under all phases of the city's reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes went into effect Friday.

"We will be amending the Red phase of reopening to allow Taylor Little League, Taylor Pony League, and Lonestar Soccer for league play only," said Stacey Osborne, city communications manager, "as well as tennis and pickleball courts for practice, lessons, and general use only."

Pierce Park, also known as the skate park, was also discussed Thursday night. As of last week, Pierce Park will remain closed in both the red and orange phases of the plan. The yellow phase will be needed for the skate park to reopen. Taylor is currently in the red phase of the city's reopening plan.

Taylor’s reopening plan was adopted last September and based on a metric from the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan uses a color-coded chart for a phased reopening of city facilities and events as transmission level increases or decreases. With the exception of hospitalization rate, the city’s plan uses the same criteria as the county to determine the current phase for Taylor.

The city’s plan has four phases ranging in severity from minimal to uncontrolled community spread. Phases from lowest to highest are green, yellow, orange and red.

Each phase adjusts restrictions with respect to social gatherings, municipal building openings, public meetings, and indoor and outdoor events. As of Feb. 12, Taylor is in the red phase.

Ahead of discussion between the council, Robert Lopez, Lonestar Soccer Club director in Taylor, talked about some the measures the Club has taken and would take if the fields were to reopen.

“You have our policies,” said Lopez. “Any questions, it’s open door.”

Jeff Sciaretta, a local chaplain, expressed frustration at many restrictions and policies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As our leaders, lead us to freedom,” said Sciaretta. “You know what we need to tell them, the rest of the world when we start getting these freedoms and opening up this skate park? This war’s going to be won by taking a fence down around the skate park. That’s how it starts, gentlemen.”

To listen to the entire citizen communications portion from Thursday night’s meeting, view the video below or visit https://taylortx.swagit.com/play/02112021-920/3.

Before the meeting, city staff’s recommended amendments to the phased reopening plan mostly pertained to the orange phase. Councilmember Dwayne Ariola said he wanted more facilities reopened in the red phase as well and explained his position on multiple fronts.

“We don’t need to micromanage our citizens,” said Ariola. “If parents don’t want their children there, they won’t go to the skate park, but they can self-discipline themselves.”

He also mentioned Taylor Regional Park, where leagues play.

“I’m ready for Taylor Regional Park to be open and have certain protocols. If you’re going to have an event, have your protocols. I’m not saying it’s a free-for-all,” said Ariola, “but the recommendation to open them when we’re orange is not enough.”

All council members weighed in on the discussion. Councilmember Mitch Drummond was okay with amendments in the orange phase. However, since the red phase is the highest phase on the city’s chart and the fields and courts would be open regardless, he wondered what would the city need to close down those facilities again if pandemic conditions worsened.

“If we double the infection rate that we’re seeing currently, if we triple it, at what point okay we’ve got to shut these down again,” asked Drummond. “Where do you stop at? I’m not sure.”

For the full conversation, view the video below or visit https://taylortx.swagit.com/play/02112021-920/7.

The city's full press release is below:

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Taylor City Council on Thursday, Feb. 11, the council directed staff to amend the Red phase of the city’s phased-in reopening guidance to allow Taylor Little League, Taylor Pony League, and Lonestar Soccer for league play only, as well as tennis and pickleball courts for practice, lessons and general use only. The new guidelines will go into effect at noon on Friday, Feb. 12.

In September 2020, the city of Taylor adopted a new phased-in plan for reopening the city, using mitigation guidance from the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) regarding community spread of the COVID-19 virus. The color-coded plan has four phases, ranging in severity from uncontrolled community spread (Red) to minimal community spread (Green). Each phase lessens restrictions with respect to social gatherings, municipal building openings, public meetings, and indoor and outdoor events. The plan was last amended by the council in November 2020.

A link to the reopening guidelines can be found on the city’s website in the COVID-19 section.

The city of Taylor is currently operating under the Red phase, which requires that most city facilities be closed or operate on a very limited basis, permits social gatherings of up to five people, and allows for the use of open spaces in city parks with social distancing.

In addition, this phase prohibits large gatherings and special events in public facilities and spaces. City Hall is only open for drive-thru services, and Taylor Public Library is only open for curbside pickup.

The city of Taylor continues to monitor this ongoing and fluid situation closely with health officials at WCCHD and Williamson County. Updates will be posted at taylortx.gov and on social media as they become available.

For more information, please visit http://www.taylortx.gov.

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