Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 1, 2014

More changes may be due for lakes

TRAVERSE CITY — Some Grand Traverse Parks and Recreation officials wonder if more can be done to improve safety at the county-owned park where three teenagers drowned in a four-year span.

Parks and Recreation commissioners approved a host of safety upgrades at Twin Lakes Park during a heavily attended and emotional board meeting last June.

Some of those changes never materialized, though, including staffing lifeguards at the park’s beach, and

safety concerns remain a reoccurring issue for the parks commission.

The parks commission in March entertained a proposal from Parks board member and county Commissioner Christine Maxbauer to ban swimming in North Twin Lake.

The proposal failed, but Traverse City resident Jennifer Stoll pushed parks commissioners to exhaust every possible safety measure to avoid another drowning.

“People will jump in this lake,” Stoll said. “It’s going to happen. We cannot babysit them, but if this happens again, will we be able to look at each other and say ‘We did everything we could?’”

Parks commissioners are pursuing two strategies to that end.

One would make swimming outside the North Twin Lake’s designated swimming area a civil infraction punishable by a fine, but that requires a change to state law.

Parks board President Alisa Kroupa soon will send letters to local lawmakers asking them to introduce legislation that would allow park rules to be prosecuted as municipal civil infractions.

Parks officials also plan to bring in a water safety expert for a site-specific review of best practices for Twin Lakes Park.

Parks and Recreation Director Jason Jones said that will occur after the commission’s June 20 meeting.

Kroupa said she hopes an expert’s review and following up on any findings will help address community concerns.

“I just want some closure for the community and the families,” she said. “I really do. It is an open wound.”

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