Beachgoers angry as Michigan City declines to provide lifeguards

NOW: Beachgoers angry as Michigan City declines to provide lifeguards

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A water safety advocate and other beachgoers are calling out local government officials after the city reportedly decided not to include lifeguards at Washington Park Beach for Summer 2020, including this weekend.

Dave Benjamin has known the beaches of Lake Michigan for 50 years, and is also the co-founder of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project — and finds the reasons Michigan City isn't putting lifeguards on duty hard to believe.

“One was a budget concern and two, a lack of applicants, (according to the mayor)” Benjamin said.

“Well, I would like to see these help wanted ads that were posted. I mean, we’ve got 40 million people unemployed (in the U.S.). To tell me that you couldn’t find 15 people to be lifeguards, it just doesn’t hold water.”

And that decision is hitting choppy waters with those who are used to seeing lifeguards at Washington Park Beach, which is the only beach under official city ownership.

One of them is Mishawaka mom Catherine Cleghorn, who’s a former lifeguard herself.

“It’s certainly something we’re going to have to consider and make sure we’re extra cautious, and really watching out for what’s going on around us since they won’t be here,” Cleghorn said.

Benjamin says his group, a non-profit which often aids in beach safety and lifeguard training in the tristate area, wasn't consulted by the city government about the cutback.

“That’s terrible. And I’ll just quote the mayor from his campaign promise post back in August. He said we ‘should keep lifeguards on the beach even on beach close (sic) dates through Labor Day because public safety is most important function of local government.’ Well if that’s how he felt last year, how come here we are in May and we’re not having lifeguards?”

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry and other city authorities did not return ABC57’s requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the property manager at nearby Indiana Dunes State Park clarified to ABC57 Saturday that it is employing lifeguards as usual at its beach.

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