Update: This story has been updated with the confirmed list of opening pools and additional information about Barton Springs and Deep Eddy.
The City of Austin announced the reopening plan for some of its biggest amenities — including pools, libraries, and animal services — beginning as early as next week.
During a May 29 virtual press conference led by City Manager Spencer Crock and featuring leaders from Austin Parks and Recreation and Austin Public Libraries, among others, the city laid a timeline for some key attractions.
City of Austin workers
The City of Austin will slowly begin welcoming employees on June 1, though most non-essential workers may remain working from home. The health risk, said Deputy City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, will be reassessed every 28 days beginning now for the foreseeable future, and adjusted accordingly.
As for the future of city workers telecommuting, the deputy city manager said she imagines those numbers will continue to grow, calling it a "revelation" how productivity increased under the Stay Home/Work Smart mandate.
Austin public pools
Nine Austin-area pools will begin reopening this month, though Deep Eddy and Barton Springs are not included. On Cronk's May 29 memo to Mayor Steve Adler and the Austin City Council, it does say that when the two pools reopen, it's suggested they be on limited schedules, with Barton Springs closed Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and Deep Eddy closed Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday.
"I'm aware — very much so — of how valuable the Parks and Recreation Department is to many community members," said Kimberly McNeely, director of Austin Parks and Recreation, "and how it plays a vital role in physical health, in mental health, and spiritual health."
Once open, pool-goers must adhere to social distancing rules, which will be enforced. The following pools will reopen in the coming weeks under a limited schedule:
- Govalle — June 1 (no lap lanes; closed Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday)
- Rosewood — June 1 (lap lane; closed Sunday, Wednesday, Friday)
- Shipe — June 1 (no lap lanes; closed Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
- Big Stacy — June 2 (lap swim only weekdays, recreational swim only weekends; closed Monday, Friday, Saturday)
- Mabel Davis— June 5 (two long-course lap lanes; closed Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
- Northwest — June 5 (six lap lanes; closed Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday)
- Walnut Creek — June 5 (three lap lanes; closed Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
- Bartholomew — June 6 (no slide, lap lanes only; closed Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
- Garrison — June 6 (two long-course lap lanes; closed Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
PARD swim teams will be canceled this summer, and splash pads will also remain closed. McNeely noted that splash pads are not considered pools, but rather grouped in the same category as playgrounds, water parks, and other places with "multiple touch points."
"We're in a position to make additional amenities available to the public," she said, noting that city-owned tennis courts, basketball courts, and parts of the Zilker Botanical Garden could also open soon.
Austin Public Libraries
Austin Public Libraries will open its book and media drops on June 1, and Director of Libraries Roosevelt Weeks encouraged Austinites to begin returning the more than 200,000 items that are currently outstanding. Once those are returned, the items will be quarantined for 72 hours before being lended back out.
Weeks also announced that curbside lending service will begin June 8 at the following 10 branches:
- Austin Central Library
- Windsor Park
- University Hills
- North Village
- Spicewood Springs
Austin Animal Center
The Austin Animal Center has taken in more than 900 animals over the past 10 weeks, according to Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland. Of those, he says, 763 have been placed in foster, and more than 400 have been adopted.
Beginning June 1, AAC will begin welcoming two potential adopters per hour (and only two family members per group). New pet owners must fill out a form on the website and will receive a time to come into the East Austin facility. Once there, each person will have their temperature checked and must wear a mask and maintain social distancing guidelines while in the building.
Interim assistant director Daniel Word noted that the cashier's office will be the first Austin Code Office amenity to open. It will be operating on June 1 and will be open daily from 8 am-4 pm. The licensing and registration office will open on June 15 for things such as short-term rental, billboard, private waste haulers, etc.