WARWICK, R.I. – Cuts in the city budget could mean reduced lifeguard staffing at the city’s three beaches this summer: Oakland Beach, Conimicut Point Beach, and City Park Beach.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says, “We'll be making those decisions as we move forward. We want to get maximum coverage so that as many areas are open as much as possible for the amount of money that is there.”
For the rest of June, the city's beaches will only be staffed on weekends. Starting July 1 through early September, the city will at least meet the requirements of the DEM, which means staffing the beaches on weekends and holidays. Anything beyond that is still up in the air.
Avedisian says, “Some of the areas will not be open full–week; they'll be weekend only. We will be posting signs on all of the beaches to let people know when lifeguards will be present and when they will not be present.”
This comes less than a year after a six year old drowned at Warwick's City Park Beach.
An investigation found that at the time of the drowning, the beach was understaffed, and that one of the two lifeguards on scene did not have the correct certification.
Warwick resident Nate Jones says, “As you can see behind us, there's kids here right now, and it's just really unsafe. I guess I'm just curious why the budget cuts are being made and what they feel is more important than the safety of children at beaches.”
The Mayor says this year's budget proposal originally called for full–week lifeguard staffing.
Avedisian says, “We added a lot of new positions for lifeguards so we could be in total compliance with what DEM wants at each location. Some of those additional monies were not approved, so now we have to scale back.”
The Mayor also says there are no beach fees right now, but later this summer he hopes the city will approve fees to help with staffing.