Lack of safety staff closes Mill Race Park

LAPEER COUNTY — Due to a lack of staffing, specifically too few lifeguards, the county’s Mill Race Water Park in Dryden Township could possibly be closed for the rest of the summer.
On Monday, Parks Director Joe Stock reported that the water slide and pools at General Squier Memorial Park have been closed to visitors for several weeks now and county officials will likely make the call later this week to keep the gates closed for the foreseeable future.
Stock said that finding enough lifeguards to staff the water features has been challenging in recent years but it’s never caused a long-term shutdown like what they’re experiencing now.
“This year we had just enough to open up and keep going for a few weeks but we can no longer afford to support two parks with the staff we had,” he said.
The county also operates Torzewski County Park’s water features, west of Lapeer, and Stock said all lifeguards on staff have been assigned there to keep that facility operational.
Although parks staff have focused on recruiting and retaining lifeguards, Stock said it’s hard to compete in the current job market that can offer teens jobs with better pay and less responsibility.
“The county has to take a good look at how we operate those parks. We’ve been on a shoestring budget for the last 10 years and it’s been a struggle,” he said.