No lifeguard, no swimming at municipal beaches

SARANAC LAKE — Village police kicked around 40 people off the village’s Lake Colby beach Monday, due to a lack of supervision.

Shannon Klein said police asked about 40 people, including her, to leave the beach around 2 p.m. She said she was unsure why and said the officer who asked them to leave told them to call the village board.

Village Manager John Sweeney said the rules and rights for the beach are issued by the state Department of Health, which states that the beach can’t be open unless it has supervision.

Sweeney said the beach will be open this weekend after high school graduation Friday.

The same lifeguard requirement applies at other municipal beaches. In Lake Placid, North Elba Town Clerk Laurie Dudley said the DOH asks the town to prohibit swimming at the Lake Placid Public Beach in Mirror Lake before the season is open and a lifeguard is on duty.

“You have to have a lifeguard on duty to be able to swim,” said Deputy Town Clerk Chelsie Geesler.

Dudley said that the week before the beach opened, the town handed out information about swimming safety from the DOH. Geesler said the municipalities can decide when to schedule lifeguards, but everything else is decided by the DOH. That includes how the lifeguards are trained and what supplies and equipment have to be at the beach.

The Lake Placid beach has been open for the past two Saturdays because it was able to have its head lifeguard work, but this weekend for the grand opening, it will have two lifeguards.

The town of Tupper Lake also has lifeguards and designated swimming hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m., June 22 to Sept. 2) at its Little Wolf Beach and Campground.

While the DOH oversees official public beaches, the Adirondack Park is also full of informal, unmonitored places to swim.

Meanwhile, back at the Lake Colby beach, Klein said people returned to the water after the police were gone.

“By the time we left — maybe 45 min[utes] after the police officer was there — there were more beach goers than when the officer made his announcement,” she wrote in an email.

“I feel like everyone is lacking clarification,” she added. “If no life guards is the issue then abolish life guards! I have talked to a number of friends with little kids who go there regularly (even when there aren’t life guards) and they all agree they’d rather go and not have it be closed than have the ‘life guards’ (who aren’t even doing their job I might add).”

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Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.

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