TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation board members rejected a proposed swimming ban by a 6 to 4 vote.
Board President Alisa Kroupa cast the deciding vote during a meeting Thursday night after board member Christine Maxbauer, who also is a county commissioner, made a motion to prohibit swimming at the county-owned park that's been the site of three drowning deaths since 2010.
Board member John Roth said he opposed limiting access to bodies of water on public property, even in light of tragic accidents.
"I'm having a hard time with this, because it is a terrible thing," Roth said during the meeting.
"But I have a real hard time pulling this from the public. The public owns that."
Parks commissioners continued to grapple with ways to improve safety at the park after Maxbauer's swimming ban was rejected.
Board member Peter Doren suggested the commission could pass swimming restrictions that could be punishable by a misdemeanor offense, and enforced by Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputies.
Kroupa made a motion to assign the commission's rules committee with exploring a misdemeanor penalty for swimming outside the lake's designated swimming area.
Kroupa said the rules committee will discuss the matter with the county's prosecuting attorney.