City commissioners are holding a special meeting at 3 p.m. today to reconsider the pending re-opening of some city parks and discuss potential penalties.

The meeting was prompted by “the latest data on confirmed cases from the Florida Department of Health along with the input received from the citizens of Lakeland,” according to a meeting announcement.

Commissioners have faced public backlash from their 6-1 decision on Monday to re-open some of the parks that had been closed a week earlier because of coronavirus concerns.

Commissioners said by opening more public spaces, it would take pressure off of overcrowded places such as the Lake Hollingsworth trail.

COVID-19 cases in Polk County continue to rise. This morning’s update from the Florida Department of Health shows 76 cases in Polk County. One COVID-19 death has occurred in Polk County and 30 people have been hospitalized.

Fourteen cases had been reported in Lakeland as of last night’s report, compared with two cases a week earlier. Testing still remains sparse in Polk County, with 1,151 people tested out of a population of more than 700,000.

City Commission meetings are viewable at and on cable: Spectrum Channel 643 or Fios Channel 43.

Commissioners and officials will attend via teleconference to maintain social distancing.

Residents who want to comment can send an email to

Audience participation will be through the GotoMeeting online service, according to city Communications Director Kevin Cook.  He said in an email: The access phone number is : +1 (872) 240-3412. During the audience portion of the agenda – the access code will be read and it will appear on the lower crawl of the live stream and broadcast.

The posted agenda consists of two items:

A. Reconsideration of Recent Openings of Park Facilities
B. Discussion of Penalties

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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