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Council extends emergency ordinance; keeps park equipment, campgrounds off limits

(Mankato, MN) – The Mankato City Council narrowly voted Monday night for the extension of the emergency ordinance that allows for the closures of playground equipment, city facilities, campgrounds, and more.

The council voted 4-3 to extend the ordinance, but directed City Manager Pat Hentges and his staff to provide estimates at the May 26 council meeting on the cost of re-opening and sanitizing the parks.

The ordinance also allows for the suspension of fees, charges, and forgiveness on late utility bills.

The 60-day extension would push the closures out to June 13.  Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges warned that even if the governor’s stay at home order is relaxed, the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might make reopening city facilities too costly.

“If we have to limit the number of people in the swimming pool, if we have to limit use of the bathhouse, if we have to do certain disinfecting operations on the playgrounds and restrooms daily, if we have to make wipes available…those types of things may become very costly,” said.

Council Member Jessica Hatanpa said she spoke with local physician Katie Smentek. “In her opinion, there’s no reason that tennis courts, campgrounds, trails, and bathrooms should not be open,” Hatanpa said of her conversation with Smentek. “Bathrooms should have only one family, cleaned daily, and no hands dryers.  She’s not on board with playground equipment yet.”

In the end, council members Karen Foreman, Mike Laven, Jenn Melby-Kelly, and Mayor Nasswa Massad voted in favor of the extension, while Dennis Dieken, Hatanpa, and Mark Frost voted against.


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