November 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
26°F
test

Avon Lake committee considering beach patrol

AVON LAKE — City officials are considering adding some watchful eyes to the beach at Miller Road Park.

Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner and Parks and Recreation Director Alex Nichols presented recommendations Thursday night to City Council’s safety committee, which is weighing whether to add a security officer to patrol the park and beach area from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer.

“You’re certainly not going to solve every problem,” Berner said. “But with this park and its amount of volume, we think it might make a difference.”

The recommendation comes a week after the third drowning death at the beach in the last two months.

Kyle Karkoff, 23, of North Ridgeville, drowned Aug. 16 after swimming in the late afternoon in relatively calm waters. Elyrians Brandon Glass, 20, and Daniel Smith, 19, drowned in July when a storm kicked up waves as high as 4 feet.

Nichols said the security officer would likely be a “college-aged” criminal justice student who would patrol the park and alert police of emergencies. The cost of creating the position was not available Thursday.

Avon Lake Police Chief David Owad said the idea could be exactly what the city needs.

“I think this recommendation could be a great assistance at Miller Road Park and other parks,” Owad said.

Berner said while he’s also researched the idea of adding lifeguards to the beach, that proposal isn’t as easy to implement.

Local health departments suggest that a lifeguard be responsible for every 100 feet of shoreline, he said, and the 1,400-foot-long beach would require at least 14 of them.

Additionally, making swimming areas smaller would go against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the water and expects people to have access to it.

“We have the ability to police,” Berner said, “but not the ability to restrict.”

The committee plans to continue looking at options before making its recommendation to City Council.

Contact Stephen Szucs at 336-4016 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.