City to employ beach monitors
This week the Granbury City Council unanimously approved a $100,000 budget amendment as part of a three-part “beach safety solution.”
Two drownings occurred at the City Beach last year within a three-week period. Four people have drowned at the popular swimming spot since 2010.
After the second tragedy last summer, the city briefly closed the beach and installed buoys at 5- to 6-foot depths. Swimmers are not allowed to swim past the buoys.
The new plan involves increased fencing with gates, beach monitors and curfew hours.
“These are the most aggressive measures, I think, we can take,” City Manager Chris Coffman said at Tuesday night’s regular City Council meeting.
City officials stressed that the beach monitors will not be certified lifeguards.
If the city were to attempt to monitor “dark water” with lifeguards, it would be costly and carry significant liability.
Parks Director Aaron McLain said that a consultant once told city officials that if the city took on that responsibility, it would have to place lifeguards on the piers, in the water and in stands on the beach.
Coffman said that the city would be required to have one lifeguard for every 25 swimmers. McLain stated that the city can barely hire enough lifeguards for the city pool.
In March, 15-year-old Wesley Barefoot partnered with the city to create an unmanned life-jacket loaner station at the beach. The effort to increase safety for swimmers was his Eagle Scout project for Troop 360.
It was decided that the city will hire eight to 10 beach monitors who will work through the summer in four-hour shifts.
One monitor will man the main entrance gate near the tiki hut on the east side of the beach in an effort to prevent prohibited substances such as alcohol from being brought onto the premises.
Another employee with a walkie-talkie will walk the beach and notify law enforcement of anyone violating the city’s rules.
The staffers will wear bright orange vests or something that will make them easily distinguishable, Coffman said.
Monitors must be at least
18. Hourly pay will be $11.
Coffman said that the city cannot discriminate on age but he hopes that the job will appeal to college-age adults.
Hours for City Beach Park have been 5 a.m. to midnight, but those hours are now going to be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or until sunset, whichever is later.
The city is also going to spend $80,000 to extend the existing fence to where the boardwalk meets the land and install a second gate on the west side. The new fencing will match the existing fencing.
It was noted that the gates will help with crowd control, such as on the 4th of July when the beach is packed with people.
Coffman said that additional monitors may work the beach on that day.
McLain said that the gates will have “panic bars” that will allow beach goers to make swift exits if necessary, but they would not be able to re-enter.