MILWAUKEE — Sheldon Wasserman, Chairman of the Milwaukee County Parks Committee, is pushing for increased safety at McKinley Beach. The beach has been the site of recent tragedies - three people have drowned at McKinley Beach since July. Wasserman said dangerous riptides have made the beach unsafe and that's why the decision was made to shut it down.
“It’s an unsafe situation. Unfortunately, we don’t have lifeguards this summer. We are going to have them next summer, people want to go into the water and it’s unsafe,” said Wasserman.
Wasserman said there haven’t been lifeguards at the beach since the mid-2000s, but he hopes the county can add lifeguards at the beach in 2021.
“Lifeguards save lives and they prevent drowning. We need them,” said Wasserman.
He said the committee is also looking at the configuration of the beach to make it safe.
“Do we have to change it up, remove these boulders? What is actually going on here, and how safe are the conditions for everybody?” asked Wasserman.
Since pools are closed this year, Wasserman said more people are heading to the beach. The decision to close county pools was made due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the county budget. Wasserman said he is requesting aquatic safety improvements in the 2021 county budget.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said in a statement he encourages those looking to cool off to enjoy one of the other several county beaches while remembering to stay safe in the water.
"Public safety is one of our top priorities, and after the tragic deaths that occurred at McKinley Beach we've decided to close McKinley Beach for the rest of the summer, due to the threat higher waves and stronger rip currents pose to all beachgoers," Crowley said. "The devastation friends and families of those lost this summer is a terrible consequence of Milwaukee County's revenue crisis, which has hampered our ability to maintain and service parks, trails, and beaches like McKinley Beach. Thinking long term, we need support from the state legislature to advance our solution to give Milwaukee County new sales tax authority in order to properly serve county residents."
County officials said larger Beach Closed signs will be places throughout McKinley beach in the near future.