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Sink or swim?


Council debates swim and lifeguard programs



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May 05, 2010 - A dip in Lake Orion can be cool and refreshing, something village council members might have needed after a hot debate on keeping lifeguards in Green's Park.

A narrow 4-3 "unofficial" vote directed the administration to keep lifeguards safe from pending budget cuts facing the village this year, though the program will be back up for consideration next year, said council president Ken Van Portfliet.

Having lifeguards at the park costs the village around $24,000 each year.

Councilmember Mike Toth was in favor of eliminating lifeguards as a way of staving off cuts to critical village services in the coming years.

"I think [keeping lifeguards] is being fiscally irresponsible. It's a big expenditure and I think we should take some medium-sized measures to save the budget. I can't vote for something where we keep taking money out."

Councilmember Doug Dendel said he didn't agree.

"You're foolish if you think you can get away with just saying we'll tell the adults it's 'at your own risk.' If we're going to give the service to the people in the village and township and have an area for swimming and we don't have a lifeguard there for some kind of security, then we should close the swimming area and just not have it at all," he said.

Lake Orion Police Chief said not having lifeguards on duty could increase the need for police presence in the park. But, he said, as far as state law is concerned, "You enter all water at your own risk."

With lifeguards out of hot water for next year, the council was able to approve Green's Park admittance pass fees as well as swim program fees – both of which will stay at 2009 levels.

An annual park pass will cost $1 for village residents, $25 for township residents and $50 for non-residents. The swim program will cost $25 for village residents, $50 for township residents and $75 for non-residents. Registration forms are available at the village offices. To allow its residents to participate in the swim program, the township will pay the village $2,000.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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