Capt Ken makes the news. There is also a video. I know...this is old news.
The debate over putting lifeguards on the public beaches in Panama City Beach is about to heat up. City Councilman Ken Nelson had previously proposed using CRA money to pay for the lifeguards. Tonight we're unveiling the details of Nelson's actual plan.
Having lifeguards on the beach has been a big question for a while, but it seems that now there could be a feasible way to do it. Panama City Beach is known for its beauty, clean water, and to some for not having lifeguards.
Ken Nelson said, "It's a public safety thing. We provide fire protection, we provide police protection. As a beach community I feel that we're obligated to provide water safety."
Two drowning deaths this past Memorial weekend and several dozen more water rescues has drawn more attention to the lack of lifeguards on the beach. Nelson believes we don't have lifeguards because of liability concerns and the added expense.
"The old excuse that it's too expensive, it's too much liability that's gone by the way side. Studies, the people I've talked to, there's no liability. There's many ways we can fund this thing. It's possible, it's doable."
But where would the money come from?
"We have different ways. First off, we could cover it under the CRA because one of the objectives of the CRA is to find safety projects and to fund safety projects.
The Front Beach Road CRA, or Community Redevelopment Area, will provide $8.5 million to the city this year.
Nelson said that United States Lifeguard Association's Mike Hudson, Beach Fire Chief John Daly, and Will Spivey with the Aquatic Center have developed a plan that could have several lifeguards on the beach.
In that plan the nine miles of beach covered by the city could have 30 lifeguards with 10 lifeguard stands and four to five of them covering the beach on ATVs.
The plan would cost about $500,000 a year and run from March 1st until Labor Day. Councilman Nelson doesn't think of this as a replacement for the current system.
The beach city council has received a copy of the proposed lifeguard plan to review. Councilman Nelson will bring it up for discussion at the Panama City Beach Council meeting tomorrow at 2 p.m.