With a window to view the city’s progress toward getting approval to finally set up accessible life rings on Kenosha’s north pier, we want to applaud and inform.
First, we applaud the Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association for raising money in 2013 and purchasing a storage kiosk, life ring and rope and offering them to the city as a donation.
That has been stalled for years over leasing issues on the pier, but new attention after the recent drowning, and a push by Ald. David Bogdala particularly, has the city awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set these up on federal property.
We urge approval and swift action by the city. Residents are viewing this process with heightened awareness.
There should be no question that life rings are an important step toward public safety.
Looking at other beach locations: life rings are credited with saving lives in Grand Haven, Holland and St. Joseph in Michigan, and Gary and Michigan City in Indiana, according to the non-profit Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
“If someone is drowning, they can find the life ring on the pier.” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the organization.
The experience of Michigan City is worth sharing today and could offer insight and a road map for Kenosha officials.
“Just call them the ‘rings of life,” read the headline of a July 30 story in the News Dispatch in Michigan City. “Mayor: Life rings along pier proving to be great investment.”
Life rings were installed in Michigan City’s Washington Park in late 2016, and for at least the second time in July they were instrumental in saving a life.
Indiana conservation officials credited Myles Wright and Devin Newton with saving two young girls from drowning, the News Dispatch reported.
“They absolutely came in handy,” Wright told the paper of the rescue in high winds and choppy water. “Without those rings, I’m not sure we could’ve gotten them out. The first girl might have been OK, but the second girl definitely would not. Without that ring, she would’ve gone under and been unconscious.”
Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer issued this statement: “It humbles me to know that the equipment we installed was utilized by two Michigan City residents to prevent drownings from occurring. I am so glad this had a good ending.”
Cost is an issue that Kenosha will face once it receives approval to install and maintain the safety equipment.
How did Michigan City do it in 2016?
The city’s Fire Department, with the help of donations, raised money to buy the rings, ropes and cabinets; a $13,000 grant from ArcelorMittal to the city’s Lakefront Safety Committee allowed them to proceed with the purchase, the News Dispatch reported.
“Through the efforts of the city and ArcelorMittal, two girls were rescued in rough waters on Tuesday,” the mayor said in late July.
Kenosha officials should act quickly when given approval to install the life rings and equipment and work toward permanent funding. Examples like this are out there.