By Seth Richardson
For more than 120 years, the people of Colorado Springs have enjoyed the beach at Prospect Lake. For most of that time, it’s unlikely that the City of Colorado Springs felt compelled to provide “personnel who monitor the beach and boating activities” as a condition for allowing the public to use their public beach and lake.
The beach, where generations of children learned to swim and enjoyed the cool water in the heat of summer, is now closed as a result of the childishness and petulance of the City Council, which closed the lake for budgetary reasons…supposedly.
In reality, the $49,000 required to operate the beach house and provide “personnel who monitor the beach and boating activities” is a drop in the bucket, and was an unnecessary waste to begin with. The real reason the Council shut the beach down is precisely because it is a valued and well-used recreational venue.
The petulant children on the City Council are playing a passive-aggressive game of retribution and infantile “I’m gonna take my ball and go home” brinksmanship with the public. Frustrated by the will of the People in turning down the Council’s avaricious desire for a new tax levy, the Council has been letting the parks go brown by refusing to simply command the Imperial Colorado Springs Utilities to put water owned by the People of Colorado Springs on the parks belonging to the People of Colorado Springs, and to hell with the ridiculous notion that the bondholders or anybody else have a superior claim to the water.
Turning off streetlights is a good idea, as are other austerity measures dictated by the economic recession we are all suffering under. All that is understandable and an acceptable reaction to the budgetary constraints faced by the Council. Even closing public pools, or offering them up for private management, is understandable because of the costs of operating a pool.
But the notion that the children of Colorado Springs are forbidden from playing in the sand and swimming in the water of a public lake because the City Council can’t fund “personnel who monitor the beach and boating activities” is both asinine and ridiculous.
People have been swimming in lakes for many tens of thousands of years without lifeguards and government nannies around, and I’m sure we’re still up to the task of monitoring our own beaches, our own children, and our own boating activities all by ourselves. If there’s a problem, somebody with a cell phone can call the police.
Here’s two solutions: First, spend two hundred bucks and put up a couple of “No Lifeguard on Duty – Swim at your own risk” signs. That’s the cheapest alternative. If necessary, ask for private or corporate donations to provide porta-potties for the summer. But can the specious rhetoric that people can’t safely play on a sand beach or swim in the lake that’s going to be there with or without “recreational management” by nincompoops on the Council.
Second, if there absolutely must be some rescue personnel available in case of a drowning, then direct one of the Fire Department water rescue trucks with a team of two, whom we already pay to sit around in a fire station when not on a call, and send them to the lake on the weekends. Let them sit in the parking lot in their truck and listen to the radio, and if they are needed elsewhere, they can go, handle the call, and come back.
In the meantime, the salaried firefighters and trained EMT’s, Paramedics and water rescue personnel on staff can adequately monitor safety at the beach for not one dime more than we pay them now. And, as a bonus, their off time, often spent polishing brass and rolling hose or sitting around watching TV can be spent serving the community more productively, and kids will be able to play in the sand and swim in their lake.
Don’t be swayed by the inevitable “Oh, dear, we cannot allow children to swim in a lake without lifeguards present” do-it-for-the-children argument, and don’t be swayed by any bogus claims of liability that will be trotted out as an excuse, just demand that they take down the fence, open the lake, and get out of our hair.
We must not allow our government to lock the gates and keep us out of our public lands anywhere in the United States merely because they plead poverty and the lack of personnel to monitor and patrol them. Just because we don’t want to fund more intrusive government nanny behavior does not mean that we are authorizing our government to exclude us from our public property.
This passive-aggressive petulance on the part of the Council childish and demeaning to the People, and the Council, all of them, should be turned out and replaced with people who understand that we, the People, are adults, and we are not merely capable of enjoying our public lands without supervision, we insist on it.
© 2010 Altnews