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City Commission Votes Unanimously to Open Parks, Trails & Boat Ramps Beginning May 1st | CARE Program | Business Update

Parks & Recreation

LAKELAND, FL (April 27, 2020) | The Lakeland City Commission voted 7-0 in a specially called City Commission meeting to open passive recreation facilities including parks, dog parks, trails, and boat ramps starting May 1st. Tennis courts and Cleveland Heights Golf Course will also open, following safety protocols.  Bob Donahay, Director of Parks & Recreation said, “Both the PGA and USTA have published a set of safety protocols for social distancing and we will make sure we follow their guidelines as we get facilities ready for operation and a May 1st opening.”

City Manager Tony Delgado said, “We do have some concern with playgrounds and manned facilities like our libraries and recreation centers at this time. Staff has been meeting on a regular basis and we have come up with a game plan to get passive areas open to the public with the goal to get facilities open as quickly as possible.” He added, “Recreation Centers and playgrounds will remain closed until further notice but could be part of a phase-two opening in the near future as long as we meet Federal and State safety requirements.”

CARE Program

The meeting started with a vote to support the Lakeland’s Coronavirus Aid for Rent & Expenses (CARE) Program. This program will be managed by the Community and Economic Development Department using reallocated or additional Federal low-income housing funds. The rent assistance program will launch Monday, May 4th with an online application that will be prominently displayed on www.lakelandgov.net and there is a dedicated information hotline 863.834.CARE (2273).  Both the dedicated phone number and the online application will be live at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 4th.  The following criteria must be met in order to be eligible for the rent assistance program:

  • Eligible recipients must be a City of Lakeland resident
  • Eligible recipients must be delinquent on rent and/or public utilities
  • Show verifiable loss of income related to COVID-19 impacts
  • Household income ≤80% AMI ($47,050 for a family of four)
  • Maximum award of three months or $5,000, whichever occurs first

Lakeland Business Community Update

During the meeting, the Lakeland City Commission also heard from the business community on how COVID-19 has impacted everything from small business to future development. The following business groups were part of the meeting:

  • Chrissanne Long - BRIDGE Local founder and small business advocate
  • Julie Townsend – Lakeland Downtown Development Authority
  • Larry Mitchell - Central Florida Business Development Council 
  • Cory Skeates – Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Steve Scruggs – Lakeland Economic Development Council

A survey has been developed by BRIDGE Local in partnership with the City of Lakeland and other area business organizations to help gather specific information about the status of individual businesses in the community. The survey will help identify the challenges businesses are facing and the impacts that current COVID-19 safety protocols are having on the Lakeland economy. Businesses are invited to take the online survey.


Jonathan Rodriguez
Community Engagement Coordinator
Community & Economic Development
CARE Program Inquiries
For inquires on or after May 4, 2020, call 834-CARE

Kevin Cook
Director of Communications
City of Lakeland

About Lakeland

The City of Lakeland was incorporated in January 1885 and has grown to become one of the largest inland communities in Florida.  With a current population of over 100,000, Lakeland continues to grow. It has been designated a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area by the US Census Bureau for over 30 years.  With tourist attractions and gulf beaches only an hour away, Lakeland continues to capitalize on its ideal central Florida location along the I-4 corridor.  The City owns and operates Lakeland Electric, the third-largest publicly owned utility in Florida and it was one of the first to offer power in the Sunshine State over 110 years ago. 


For additional information about the City of Lakeland, please explore lakelandgov.net.
Citizens are also invited to follow the City on social media.