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home : top stories : top stories December 17, 2014


7/17/2013 12:45:00 PM
Efforts being made to bring back swim beach

There's a new effort to open the Rice Lake city beach on Veterans Lakeshore Drive.
"We're trying," said Karen Harem, director of the Rice Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Harem said she was hopeful the beach could be opened yet this year, but chances of that happening are fading. On Wednesday morning, July 17 the Rice Lake Lake District declined to buy buoys for the beach because the project wasn't far enough along.
"A lot of issues have come to light on that. We have to have all our ducks in a row," said Lake District chairman Doug Pitts.
Harem said the Chamber has always been interested in reopening the beach, which is near the Elks Club. The beach closed in 2000 on a 7-3 City Council vote during budget cuts and has remained closed since then. The city's cost of lifeguards was one factor in closing the beach, with cost savings estimated then at about $16,000. Other factors were Rice Lake's water quality, swimmer's itch, and a deteriorating bathhouse and bathroom building.
Under the new plan there would be no lifeguards.
Last week, Harem said she contacted Rice Lake city recreation coordinator Ellen Daniels about opening the beach, and that Daniels said it could open if there were buoys and ropes.
"If we can get the buoys we can get it open," she said.
But Community Services director Jim Anderson told the Lake District on Monday that buoy placement required a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources, including GPS locations. The district was meeting in regular session at City Hall.
Anderson said Port Potties could be used for bathrooms, but they might have to be ADA compliant, at a cost of about $250 per month. ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires access for those with disabilities.
Anderson also said there were traffic problems, especially with kids running across Veterans Lakeshore Drive, which is next to the beach.
Anderson said the City Council will also be involved.
In May, Dan Graff, of the Lake District, made a PowerPoint presentation to the park board. The board voted 2-1 to pursue opening the beach if there would be no cost to the city. Park Board member Mike Diercks cast the dissenting vote because of the possible cost to the city. Diercks is also a Rice Lake City councilman.
In the past swimmers itch has been a problem at the beach. That's caused by a microscopic parasite in snails that seeks a host, usually ducks, but finds a human instead. The parasite can not infect humans, but human immune systems cause a short-term reaction of welts and itching when the parasites get into the skin. Swimmers itch can usually be avoided by a shower and brisk towel drying.
Graff said on Monday that swimmers itch has been recently reported in some parts of the lake, but not at the city beach. He said he went swimming there five times to see if he'd get it, but never did.
"I'm not aware of anyone who swam in the beach area and got it, but that's not saying it isn't there," said Graff.
Harem is hopeful.
"If we can't do anything else, I'm sure we can do it next year," she said.
"Basically, it's not going to happen this year," said Jerry McRoberts at the Wednesday Lake District meeting.
"I can't see it happening this year. But if we keep working on it we could be ready in the spring," said Anderson.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: Sharon Ferguson

My entire childhood summers were spent at that beach. Seems to me you could rent a basket for a quarter to store you stuff while you swam. Any possibilities of generating a bit of income? A little is better than none.

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