In a 4-3 vote, the Nogales City Council this week voted down a measure that would have reopened a city baseball field, soccer field and tennis courts.

The move all but assures that the ballfields won’t open until December or January, since the Parks and Recreation Department is set to start reseeding grass in early October.

Councilman Jorge Maldonado, a board member of Nogales National Little League, sponsored the motion to reopen Turley Field, Fleischer Park and city tennis courts. He said only one team would use the soccer and baseball fields at a time and would follow health guidelines, including maintaining social distancing.

“All they’re asking is (to be) able to practice,” Maldonado said.

But Mayor Arturo Garino and other council members said they were skeptical about whether safety precautions would be enforced and said the move could put the community at risk.

“I’m a little concerned,” Garino said.

Maldonado had first proposed the reopening a week earlier at a Sept. 2 meeting, but at that time, council members told him to come back with a more specific proposal for keeping athletes safe while using city facilities. On Sept. 9, he brought back a list of restrictions that would be in place including player limits and a prohibition on spectators. Maldonado also pointed out that some teams were already playing games in cities like Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott and Payson.

But that didn’t sway enough council members to pass the proposal. Garino and council members Esther Melendez-Lopez, Hector Bojorquez and Jose “Joe” Diaz voted against it.

Maldonado and Councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr. voted “yes.” Councilman Nubar Hanessian’s vote couldn’t be heard in the council’s live stream of the meeting, but Garino said that the final vote had been 4-3 against the motion.

Parks and Recreation Director Marcel Bachelier – who recommended against reopening the fields – said that reseeding on the fields could start as early as Oct. 1. Even though the fields haven’t been used, he said, they need to be reseeded in order to replace the warm weather-friendly Bermuda grass with hardier winter rye grass that will keep the fields green during colder months.

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