WARSAW — At the Warsaw Parks & Recreation board meeting Tuesday, May 21, Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa said lack of lifeguards is an issue again this year. The parks department currently has four lifeguards. Warsaw Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer said 14 guards are needed to run the system at full capacity.
“We will not be guarding Pike this year. It will be swim at your own risk,” said Wieringa. “Center will be guarded Wednesday through Sunday, as long as we have the staffing to uphold those hours. We will try our best to have guards from Wednesday to Sunday, which is the same schedule that we did have last year, we were just able to do Pike some last year.”
“Are you getting people coming in, but they’re just not qualified or are you getting nobody?” Board Member Bill Baldwin inquired.
“Nobody,” Wieringa replied.
Plummer explained it’s not only the Warsaw Parks Department that is experiencing a lifeguard shortage.
“The Y is struggling, Winona Lake is struggling,” said Plummer. “There are a lot of systems that are going to just ‘swim at your own risk’ and have no guards period.”
Plummer said they had seven lifeguards last year and only four this year.
“The trend is going in the wrong direction,” Plummer said. “If it doesn’t look any better next year, that may be what we are forced to do, just swim at your own risk.”
Plummer stated in that case the lifeguard stands on the beach and pier areas would have signs marked “Swim at your own Risk.”
The health department will start water quality testing this weekend. The lake levels have been relatively high, Plummer said, adding that the Lakes Festival is this weekend, with a ski show planned as part of that event.
“I had a conversation with them about the lake level today. Hopefully it’s down low enough that we can go on with the ski show. I’m concerned about the residents around the lake and the waves, but they are going to monitor that and make that call themselves.”
Regarding the Lucerne Park Amphitheater, Plummer said they are in the process of obtaining quotes for the project. The quotes are to be received before 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 31.
“Hopefully, if the quotes are within our budget range, we’ll be able to take those to the board of works and move forward with the project,” said Plummer. “We’re looking for a timeline probably in July to October or November.”
Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner said as of today flowers have been planted in all local parks. Gardner told board members that fifth and sixth grade Eisenhower School student council members planted flowers at McKinley Park recently.
“We gave them the flowers and let them do their own design in each bed,” Gardner said, “So I’m really curious to see how those turn out this summer. It was pretty neat. We had a lot of fun with them and I think the kids had a lot of fun. They’ll be able to come back this summer and see the flowers growing and know they had a hand in that.”
Gardner and Plummer both said the rain and cool temperatures have resulted in delays in maintenance and projects at local parks.
- The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18; however, Plummer stated during tonight’s meeting that budget sessions will be held next month and, depending on how that falls, the board meeting may be adjusted and held a week earlier or a week later.