Visitors to Avon Lake’s Miller Road Park, where two people have drowned this summer, as well as numerous others over the past five years, may be cautioned by off-duty officers now monitoring the area.
Karla Olsen, the Director of External Affairs for GenOn, said the company began hiring off-duty Avon Lake officers several weeks ago.
“It’s just to educate the public about the area beyond the ropes,” Olsen said of the area deemed a high risk for drowning. “We want people to be aware and to stay on the safe side. The whole idea is to educate the public. Avon Lake residents understand the danger; people outside (the city) may not be aware of them.”
Olsen said the officers are schedule to be on duty through Sept. 4 and the company is currently discussing whether patrols will be continued.
The officers, who are patrolling in Avon Lake Police uniforms, are being paid through GenOn, not Avon Lake.
Avon Lake Police Chief Dave Owad said the department allows off-duty police officers to use their uniforms.
“They are working off duty, but can intercede as an officer if an arrest is warranted,” he said.
GenOn and the city recently installed new signs warning of the danger of swimming outside the designated area. Some signs, including one that greets visitors coming down the walkway, were installed before North Olmsted resident, Michael Foreman, 34, drowned Aug. 13 in an area deemed safe for swimming.
Olsen noted that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources technically owns the beach area by the plant, and channel area that is roped off.
“We still don’t want anything to happen,” she said. “We’re working with the city and police department on this.”
Mayor addresses drowning
Mayor Greg Zilka also said education was needed. At the Aug. 20 city council meeting he noted that no individuals from the city had died in the area, but said residents understood the dangers of the area.
“We are very concerned about the loss of life once again in that area,” Zilka said. He noted the area was popular for fishing and attracted people from out of the area.
“There have been suggestions of closing the beach,” he said, adding that people had drowned prior to the beach being developed after people jumped the fence.
“It’s our goal and our objective to have zero incidences there,” Zilka said. The mayor said the city will work with city engineer Joe Reitz, service director Tom Lescher and the Avon Lake Police Department “to make it a safer place.”
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