Ocala begins limited reopening of parks as part of city reopening process

Team sports and groups are still prohibited

Ray Wayside Park (Ocala Boat Basin). File photo.
Ray Wayside Park (Ocala Boat Basin). File photo.

OCALA, Fla. – The City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department will begin to reopen parks this week for individual and non-organized sports use within city limits, according to a news release.

The reopening of parks is the first step to getting back to “normal” after the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order was issued. The order is scheduled to expire, allowing municipalities to begin the reopening process in phases.

According to a news release, activities such as walking, jogging and bicycling in the parks will continue to be allowed.

“Team sports, organized activities or groups are still prohibited,” officials said.

Officials said a six-feet physical distance rule must always be maintained while at the parks and face coverings are recommended.

Below are the new schedules and restrictions put in place by the City of Ocala.

Tennis Facilities:

On Friday, public tennis and racquetball courts in parks will re-open.

Residents utilizing public courts must adhere to the following guidelines for court play:

  • Singles play only
  • Only every other court will be available for use to ensure safe social distancing
  • Public restrooms will remain closed
  • Modified play rules will be posted at each site
  • Park Rangers will monitor play while patrolling to ensure safe practices are followed

The Fort King Tennis Center, 3301 E Fort King St., will re-open on Monday. Based on current health guidelines, the following restrictions will be implemented:

  • Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Singles play only
  • Pro Shop closed; those registered to play must enter through side gate where staff will check them in. 
  • Court reservations will be accepted by phone only. No walk-ins. Players should call 352-629-8453 for court reservation policies and to schedule a reservation. They will then be instructed how to make an online payment. Only online payments will be accepted.
  • An empty court or common area is required next to a used court. This will be managed by the facility operator.
  • No congregating by players before or after play.
  • No food or beverage services will be available, including ice and on-court water coolers.
  • Management will monitor all play to ensure safe practices are being followed.

Ocala Skate Park:

The Ocala Skate Park, located at 517 NE Ninth St., will reopen Monday with limited access and restrictions.

  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; reservation required.
  • Reservations for each week will open the Monday prior and can be made Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Participants must call (352) 368-5525 to reserve a skate time and will be allowed a one-hour skate session per week.  Each caller may reserve a skate time for one or two skaters in the same time slot, but the name of each skater must be provided and verifiable upon arrival.
  • Only two skaters will be permitted to use the facility at a time. 
  • On-site staff will check-in registered skaters and monitor compliance with distancing requirements. No on-site reservations will be accepted.
  • Participants must remain in their vehicles or in the parking lot until their designated skate time. Loitering near the entrance or in groups in the parking lot will not be permitted.
  • Participants must show proof of identification that matches the reservation to gain access. (Student ID, Florida ID Card, driver’s license or other identification that includes a picture and name is acceptable)
  • Participants under 16 may have one non-skating parent or guardian present with them during their session. No other spectators will be permitted.
  • No public restrooms will be available.
  • All other posted skatepark rules and regulations apply.
  • In the event of rain, the park will close, and skate sessions will not be rescheduled. Participants must call to reserve another day and time.
  • The City will continue to evaluate the skate park operation and update policies as the CDC recommendations are relaxed.

Still Closed

The following city-operated facilities remain closed until further notice:

  • Eighth Avenue Activity Center, 830 NE Eighth Ave. 
  • Barbara Washington Adult Activity Center, 210 NW 12th Ave. 
  • Fort King National Historic Landmark Visitors Center, 3925 E Fort King St.  (The park itself remains open)
  • Discovery Center, 701 NE Sanchez Ave. 
  • Citizens’ Circle Splash Pad, SE Osceola Ave.
  • Lillian Bryant Splash Pad, 2200 NW 17th Pl.
  • E.D. Croskey Community Center, 1510 NW Fourth St. 
  • Lillian Bryant Community Center, 2200 NW 17th Pl.
  • Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center, 2390 SE 36th Ave.
  • Hampton Aquatic Fun Center, 255 NW 16th Ave.

According to a news release, most amenities at the parks will remain closed. This includes playgrounds, basketball courts, recreation centers and swimming pools.

“Future decisions regarding the re-opening of recreational facilities will be made using a phased approach and contingent upon the ability to comply with social distancing recommendations along with new or emerging information regarding COVID-19 cases,” officials said.

For more information, you’re asking to contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department by calling 352-368-5517.

About the Author: