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Hillsborough to reopen some parks Saturday

Social distancing guidelines must still be followed at the trails and preserves
A picture of Lake Conservation Park, which was closed by Hillsborough County in response to the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. The county announced some trails and preserves will begin reopening Saturday
A picture of Lake Conservation Park, which was closed by Hillsborough County in response to the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. The county announced some trails and preserves will begin reopening Saturday [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Apr. 30, 2020
Updated Apr. 30, 2020

TAMPA — Hillsborough County is poised to reopen some of its parks beginning Saturday.

County Administrator Mike Merrill said the county will open a majority of its nature preserves and the boat ramp at E.G. Simmons Conservation Park on Saturday. Several conservation parks, along with walking trails at six neighborhood parks, will open on Monday.

The action comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order to allow some business activities to reopen Monday. For more than a week, the county’s Emergency Policy Group has heard from residents who want the parks to reopen.

Residents will be required to follow social distancing guidelines, and portions of the parks will remain closed, including playgrounds, picnic areas, and kayak and canoe facilities. The boat ramp at E.G. Simmons will reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday along with all Hillsborough County nature preserves. The exception is Apollo Beach, which remains closed until further notice.

As for the city of Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor said Wednesday that she will keep the city’s parks and beaches closed for now out of concern for large crowds congregating. At Thursday’s emergency policy group meeting, Castor said her office would be releasing additional information about city parks on Friday.

A list of county nature preserves is available at https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/residents/recreation-and-culture/parks/find-a-park?c=nature+preserve.

The following county conservation parks will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday:

  • Flatwoods Conservation Park, 14302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa, and 18205 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa;
  • Morris Bridge Off-Road Biking Area, 12651 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa
  • Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park, 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Drive, Plant City, for hiking and biking only;
  • Upper Tampa Bay Trail and all parking areas.

Walking trails only will open at 8 a.m. at the following neighborhood parks:

  • Jackson Springs Community Center, 8620 Jackson Springs Road, Tampa
  • Northdale Community Center, 15550 Spring Pine Drive, Tampa
  • Carrollwood Village Community Park, 4680 W Village Drive, Tampa
  • Ruskin Community Center, 901 6th St. SE, Ruskin
  • Apollo Beach Community Center, 664 Golf and See Blvd., Apollo Beach
  • All People’s Life Center, 6105 E Sligh Ave., Tampa

All other parks remain closed.

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