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New Buffalo leaders consider cutting lifeguard program

New Buffalo leaders consider cutting lifeguard program. // WSBT 22 photo

Lifeguards in New Buffalo might be out of a job this summer.

A risk management advisor told the city to cut the program.

That possibility has some people nervous.

The water may look calm Wednesday, but we know the Great Lakes can be deceiving.

Water safety experts say, that beach can be dangerous, especially around the piers.

New Buffalo city leaders say lifeguards could be a liability.

“It's risky to have lifeguards on duty. They give the impression that they are able to protect people when they go into the water and that's not the case,” said David Richards, city manager.

Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue project couldn't disagree more.

"Having no lifeguards at the beach makes it a lot less safe. On a long enough time line, I don't believe it's if we'll have a drowning, it's when will we have a drowning,” said Benjamin.

He says New Buffalo beach is unique because of the jetties and the boat channel. Benjamin says frequent winds from the north cause currents along the shore line.

“When they hit that pier, they go out and around that pier and one of the duties of lifeguards at that beach is to keep people from swimming in the water around that pier,” said Benjamin.

The city hasn't made a final decision about the lifeguard program.

Richards says the council has special meetings Thursday and Friday.

"They will decide if they want to move forward with lifeguards, and if they do then we will schedule public meetings for the residents to come in and express their opinions,” said Richards.

Richards says dates for those public meetings haven't been set yet. It depends on what the council decides.

Benjamin says he's already interested in going.

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