(Michigan City, IN) - There will be no lifeguards at the public beach in Michigan City this Memorial Day weekend.
Lifeguards returning to the Lake Michigan shoreline at Washington Park for the rest of the summer is also not guaranteed.
The decision to pull lifeguards was made by mayor Duane Parry who’s imposed restrictions on spending to try and eliminate a $3.6 million budget deficit inherited from the previous administration.
Parry is also looking to keep the red ink from deepening given the uncertainty about the impact COVID-19 might have on existing revenue streams.
The city has already lost about $1 million a month in revenue from Blue Chip since the shutdown on casinos statewide went into effect in mid-March to help limit the spread of the virus.
Some people might not be able to pay their property taxes from job losses caused by the gradually loosening restrictions.
Parry said supplying lifeguards on the beach during the summer costs well over $100,000.
To his knowledge, Parry said no other public beach on Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana has lifeguards and believes police officers already working the shoreline can help fill the role.
He also believes having the U.S Coast Guard station and Indiana Department of Natural Resources office nearby for responding to water emergencies helps fill the protection gap.
No lifeguards have been hired but some could be as he considers what to do for the rest of the season.
“It’s not a cast in stone decision. It’s something we’re going to take a look at,” Parry said.
Several city council members at a May 19 budget workshop told the mayor they are opposed to not having lifeguards at the beach, fearing loss of life and being sued for negligence.
Parry said swim at your own risk signs have been posted at the beach