The news from Mayor Paul Soglin was not encouraging last week for those residents of Madison who use certain city beaches, and care about the impact a proposed lack of funding will have on neighborhoods.
It was announced that funding for lifeguards would be removed from the new budget for Bernie’s, B.B. Clarke, Esther, James Madison, Olin, Spring Harbor and Warner beaches.
I want to challenge that proposal, and use B.B. Clarke Beach as my example as to why this is not good a sound idea.
Over the past 5 years there has been a profound change at B.B. Clarke which has increased the number of people using the beach, and the type of uses that now take place in the park area.
There has been a continual attempt to make the park more attractive and user-friendly from lifting the canopy of the trees in 2008, cleaning the shoreline of the tall and unsightly weeds, replacing old benches in 2009 with new artistic ones, and securing funding for shoreline preservation which was completed one year ago.
Residents have also have worked for, and continue to press for the use of the ‘boom system’ to keep the algae and lake weed down so the water remains safe and fun to swim in all summer, and it has been working. There is talk from the park department to place new tar this coming year on the walking area. Residents are also working with the department for new plantings along the beach house.
In other words there has been an investment into this beach and park area over the past years. And it has provided dividends for city residents.
More and more people are using the beach. There are people who now come to the park area to view the fireworks over the lake as the shoreline is not a mass of weeds. Artists set up easels to draw as they gaze over the water. People practice their tai chi looking over the lake. Many weekday afternoons child care brings a group of very energetic kids to the beach for an afternoon outing. In fact, the beach area is very populated and used all summer long!
At a time when so much good is happening at B.B. Clarke Beach why undermine it with a denial of funds for lifeguards?
To make things even worse–or should I say smelly –is this tidbit from the Soglin budget.
The park department says beaches like B.B. Clarke will remain open but will not be maintained as far as raking weeds or removing dead fish. It’s not clear if volunteers
would be allowed to take over those functions.
Who would want to swim among dead fish and rotting weeds? Does Soglin really think this a wise idea, or am I missing some fun activity that I am not aware of?
While I understand the need for budget cutbacks I am quite certain taking away the little things that can be listed under the ‘quality of life’ column for Madison residents is not wise or prudent.
I suspect there is a political component to this as well, and perhaps all Soglin needs to feel is the heat.
Let Soglin feel the political heat before swimmers are turned away from beaches due to dead fish in summer heat.