Proposal Has Town Lifeguards Returning To Three Of Bourne's Beaches This Summer
By: Diana T. Barth
The subject of hiring lifeguards for Bourne’s beaches took center stage Monday when selectmen and the Bourne Finance Committee met jointly to continue reviewing the departmental budgets proposed for the upcoming fiscal year.
In an effort to make budgetary ends meet, selectmen last year cut funding for lifeguards—a move that became the most debated political issue of the summer, and a topic of statewide interest.
Under Bourne Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino’s recommended budget for FY 2013, lifeguards will fall under the purview of Krissanne Caron, recreation department director, for the first time.
Previously, lifeguards had a separate line item and the guards were supervised by longtime beach supervisor, Judith Cox.
Ms. Caron and Mr. Guerino are recommending that three beaches be staffed with lifeguards next year. They are considering Monument Beach, Sagamore Beach, and either Electric Avenue Beach or Queen Sewall/Bumps Pond in Buzzards Bay.
A budget of $65,000 would allow for the hiring of 11 lifeguards, two aides, and two swimming instructors to staff those three beaches. Two three-week sessions of swimming lessons could be provided at Monument Beach, along with one three-week session each at both Sagamore Beach and the beach selected in Buzzards Bay.
If additional money becomes available as the state and local budget planning proceeds, the recommended budget could be increased to add lifeguards for a second beach on the south side of town, such as Hens Cove or Patuisset. Adding that beach would require an additional $12,000 to $13,000, officials estimated.
Present at Monday’s meeting was Roberta A. Dwyer of Gray Gables, along with several other Gray Gables residents. Ms. Dwyer was a proponent of last July’s Special Town Meeting measure that attempted to bring lifeguards back to Bourne’s beaches at the end of last summer. That article, defeated by 41 votes, would also have funded lifeguards for the beginning of the upcoming summer.
While town voters defeated the lifeguard article, selectmen said they heard the message the residents were giving them loud and clear. They added money to this fiscal year’s budget to fund lifeguards prior the July 1 start of FY 2013.
The town hopes to have a head lifeguard in place by mid-April and attract other qualified lifeguards with a salary of about $12 per hour.
Lifeguards will serve from the last week of June to late August, about 7 1/2 weeks.
Reached after the meeting, Ms. Dwyer said she still does not understand why selectmen do not see the necessity of providing lifeguards for all of the town’s beaches. She said she wants to know the criteria selectmen used in selecting the beaches it will staff. She said she would still like to see how many children participated in lessons at each of the beaches, historically, information that was not available at Monday’s meeting.
Selectman Peter J. Meier said this week that funding for lifeguards is not “automatic or perpetual.” The town, he said, would fund the service as it can afford it.
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