Lifeguards are back at Atwater Beach this summer, thanks to new private agency
After a one-year absence, lifeguards are back at Atwater Beach in Shorewood this summer, thanks to a local private agency stepping up to handle staffing.
Coastline Services, LLC, a new business launched by Shorewood resident Eric Gietzen, has been contracted to coordinate coverage on behalf of the Village of Shorewood, a unique arrangement that helps to address the area's lifeguard shortage.
So, starting this Saturday, Atwater Beach will have lifeguards on duty again.
Last year, because the Milwaukee County Parks Department received so few lifeguard applications, some public beaches, including Atwater, were not able to be staffed. For the first time since 2012, Atwater was without certified beach attendants, and Shorewood officials anticipated facing the same problem again this summer.
In January, after exploring different options and engaging with Gietzen about a possible public-private partnership, the Village entered into a one-year agreement with Coastline Services. Per the terms of the approved proposal, the Village pays Coastline Services $24,000, and Gietzen's agency provides lifeguard staff coverage, as well as a Waterfront Certified Lifeguard Supervisor, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 23 through Aug. 19.
After assessing the performance of the agreement in 2018, the Village will issue a RFP to let Gietzen and others bid for the contract up to five years.
Gietzen, who's also a teacher at Shorewood High School and a member of the nonprofit environmental Surfrider Foundation, will be in charge of recruiting, hiring, training and coordinating schedules of lifeguards for Atwater Beach.
This is the first time the Village of Shorewood has contracted lifeguard services with a private agency instead of a public entity. Traditionally, the Milwaukee County Parks Department has supplied lifeguards for its beaches, providing waterfront and beach training and certification. Last year, when Atwater was without lifeguards, the Village returned to the policy it had prior to 2012 – advising beachgoers to swim at their own risk, posting safety signs and having the Shorewood police make multiple daily checks – but planned to evaluate better options for 2018.
The agreement with Coastline Services solves Atwater's lifeguard staffing problem, allowing for a safe and secure beach community members can enjoy, while assuring they are obeying local regulations and not performing actions that might damage the lakefront.
The Village announced the Atwater lifeguard news in an excited Facebook post on Tuesday, but asked that visitors observe and obey the beach rules, including no dogs, as lifeguards' primary focus is on monitoring the water.
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