Park District should rethink its rules on the placement of lifebuoys

This page has criticized the Chicago Park District a lot lately – and not without reason.

The agency appears to be making some sort of blunder every week, the latest being the district’s utterly insane resistance to installing lifebuoys at all points on the lake, rather than where swimming is permitted.

Miguel Cisneros, 19, drowned on August 22 after jumping into the water from Pratt Pier in Rogers Park. Swimming is prohibited there so the park district has not put lifebuoys there.

But after the Columbia University sophomore drowned, residents of Rogers Park alone put lifebuoys on the pier. And the park district has removed the security devices.

Large, floating donut-shaped lifebuoys are designed to be thrown into the water so that potential drowning victims can grab onto them.

Last week, the Park District Superintendent. Mike Kelly has changed course and is putting lifebuoys at Pratt Pier and in manned locations along the lake.

But that he made the announcement virtually gritting his teeth says it all.

“I don’t like this decision. I can’t stress enough, folks, ”he said. “We are in the field of personal security. We are in the business of teaching children to swim. Anything that gives a semblance of comfort to go in this water where it is written “Do not swim” [encourages people to break the rules], but we’re going to do it, ”Kelly said.

Gee, thanks, Mike.

If the park district is really in the realm of people safety, then it is a mystery to us why the agency and its leader would not want people to be and feel safe at all points on the edge of the park. Lake.

A short-sighted solution

The installation of the lifebuoys, according to Kelly, is part of a larger safety plan that includes additional signage and fencing by the lake and outreach activities designed to teach more young people to swim by the fourth grade. year.

Fair enough, except that the District will only put the rings in marked spots that are safe for swimming – which is an infuriating short-sighted “fix” and doesn’t really completely solve the problem.

For his part, Kelly said last week that he did not regret the decision to remove the residents’ lifebuoys placed on Pratt Pier. And he has no qualms about his current plan either.

“No… I don’t regret [it]. I do not regret. I think I made the right decision then. I think I’m making the right decision now, ”Kelly said.

He is not.

About “more than Miguel”

From its mess of the recent lifeguard scandal to its continued adoption of combining two quiet, hard-working golf courses at the South Shore Cultural Center and Jackson Park into one PGA-level super course designed by Tiger Woods, the district has forgotten that there are for the public good.

And the lifeline issue is another example.

Cisneros’ mother, Maria Diaz, calls for lifebuoys by the lake, including places where swimming is not allowed.

“It’s not just about Miguel,” said Diaz, whose family is suing the park district, alleging that Cisneros’ death could have been avoided had there been lifebuoys on the pier. “It’s about preventing other families from going through this tragedy.

She’s right. And despite what Kelly thinks, the rings won’t encourage a wave of unauthorized swimming.

As Mayor Lori Lightfoot rightly said: “Lifelines are important. To my simple mind, they are like a fire extinguisher. You don’t want to encourage people to burn buildings down. But if there is an emergency, you have it there. Lifebuoys are the same thing.

We agree.

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