BULLHEAD CITY —T uesday’s Bullhead City Council meeting provided an unusual amount of breaking news with the announcement of two developments related to the continuing spread of COVID-19.
Mayor Tom Brady issued an emergency proclamation: All city beaches, boat launches and associated parks will be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through mid-September.
Other locations within the city that provide easy access to the Colorado River also will be closed.
The closures will begin Friday.
The Fourth of July weekend perhaps was the final straw.
“I had hoped that since we control only a few areas of the Colorado River shoreline, we could keep them open by reducing the numbers of visitors allowed to an acceptable level for social distancing,” Brady stated in his proclamation.
City Manager Toby Cotter read it aloud because Brady was attending the meeting virtually using Zoom.
“Out-of-towners figured out a way to thwart our plan, and they crowded our beaches to socially unacceptable levels,” Brady’s proclamation continued. “In trying to control large crowds moving forward, I now realize our limitations and believe that no matter what the city does, non-compliance and overcrowding will continue to occur, which is not acceptable in trying to stem the spread of this virus.”
Brady also spoke himself and stressed that any repercussions to citizens and businesses are well understood but that it was necessary to make masks mandatory in indoor public locations after not everyone was doing so voluntarily.
Attempting further changes at Community Park — most recently the numbers of vehicles were limited in an attempt to control beachside crowding — likely would have resulted in confrontations between “police, park staff and our out-of-town visitors,” he said.
Implementing another preventive measure to help reduce the number of cases that have been originating in Bullhead City and nearby unincorporated locations such as Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley also is hoped to keep the number of people seriously affected by the virus from ultimately overtaxing the hospitals that serve the area.
The public will be able to use the parks Mondays through Thursdays.
The proclamation orders:
- Community Park, Colorado River Nature Center and Sunshine Marina will be closed “entirely,” according to a news release sent out during the council meeting.
- Community Park will be fully fenced off and left without public access. The Nature Center’s main gate will be locked and foot traffic not allowed.
- Gates will be installed at Sunshine Marina to stop entry by vehicles and on foot.
- Rotary Park will be closed to most vehicular traffic and beaches there will be closed and the only parking lot opened will be near the pickleball courts. Access will continue for basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, skate park, walking trails, ballfields and dog park. Gates and fencing will be installed to prevent beach and boat launch access.
- Street ends with river access, such as Trane, Park Lane, Third, Fifth and others will be closed entirely.
“Together we will get through this pandemic, but it requires each of us to do our part in stopping the spread. Let’s all pray that it ends quickly with no more suffering or fatalities,” Brady also stated in the proclamation.
Testing events being planned
The city also is working with Mohave County Public Health and Western Arizona Regional Medical Center to set up a site within the city for about 2,000 quick coronavirus tests.
This likely would require at least two events to complete that many tests. The first would be done inside a large and available space at Riverside Mall, which would be provided for free.
Council members approved the partnership among the city, county and hospital. About $75,000 of CARES funding would be used to pay for the rapid test kits as well as other needs, such as cleaning and utilities.
Each kit costs about $27, Cotter said.
WARMC would donate staff and the county would provide personal protective equipment.
Council members were willing to include people from other parts of what county officials refer to as the “Bullhead City service area,” such as Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley but want the county to pay for testing those people. If the county can’t do that, then the events would be limited to city residents only.
About 25% of cases in the Bullhead City service area come from the smaller communities in the county, Cotter said.
Cotter explained that these tests would help determine which people don’t have the virus so they can get back to work and their lives. Those who test positive can seek out nasal testing and further treatment at WARMC.
Cotter said the events would alleviate the high level of anxiety among residents worried about having contracted COVID-19.
Other council actions:
- Allowing the Bullhead City Police Department to accept $35,651 from a Department of Justice program highlighting COVID-19 emergency response needs. The money would be used for purchase of personal protection equipment.
- Approved purchase by the BHCPD of five new patrol vehicles — with necessary equipment — for $330,674.
- Will ask the Bullhead City Pest Abatement District to increase its yearly allocation for the Pest Abatement Program to $160,000, It now pays $135,000.
- Combined two Laughlin Ranch lighting districts into one and adopted the annual estimated expenses statement of the city’s street lighting districts — which are for developer-created lights and not other outdoor street lights within the city — of $53,355.
Council member Tami Ring wasn’t at the meeting. All votes were 6-0 in favor of the items presented.