New Buffalo beach will keep lifeguards

Published: Apr. 23, 2018 at 4:34 PM EDT
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The city beach in New Buffalo will continue to be staffed with lifeguards this summer.

The unanimous vote came today and abruptly ended talk of eliminating the program.

The motion came from Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV who said he thought the city was rushed into the idea of going guard less, and that the city should “step back and look at this more carefully.”

After another summer of the status quo, the mayor said the subject should be revisited in the fall.

Any hopes that the move would smooth the waters with concerned beach goers were quickly dashed at today’s New Buffalo City Council meeting.

“The mayor said we were going to keep the original budget and that's for lifeguards four days a week,” said concerned citizen Nora Howe. “That was down from seven days a week.”

For some in the crowd and some on the council the debate quickly turned toward expanding a program that—moments ago—had been in danger of being eliminated.

“I suggested we needed as much guarding as we could have, said Council Member Elizabeth Ennis. “It was cut last year on to weekend and holiday schedule.”

Aside from quantity, the whole debate started out with quality concerns and the idea that the city would be better off without lifeguards—at least from a liability standpoint.

“We were told that we would have to be baby sat, which is not right, another thing, that we were always on our cell phones which is not true,” said former lifeguard Jarvis Tarnowski. “You have a greater chance of saving somebody with lifeguards there than you do not having anybody down there.”

Tarnowski suggested the city get back to its beach basics in terms of supporting its guards and restoring morale.

“We had a $60,000 budget, and I remember at the beginning of the year we were asking for resources, and right away they said we’ll have to see, the budget’s tight, and I thought that was funny,” Tarnowski said. “We needed tarps above our lifeguard stand so we don't' get over heated, whistles, they actually bought us 99 cent whistles that sounded like a train horn.”

The last New Buffalo drowning apparently claimed the life of 15 year old Matthew Kocker in July of 2013.