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POSTED AUGUST 22, 2016
(Portland, OR) –
Portland Parks & Recreation installing additional and larger “No Swimming” signs
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has temporarily closed Kelley Point Park (North Marine Drive and Lombard Street, at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers). The closure comes on the heels of two recent drownings and is supported by Portland Fire & Rescue (PFR).
PP&R expects the closure to last at least a couple of days as the bureau works to install additional and larger “No Swimming” signs. The signs will have a swimming icon surrounded by the familiar red circle and line, as well as messaging in multiple languages stating that swimming is not allowed at the park.
“No Swimming/No Wading” signs have been installed at Kelley Point Park since at least 2012 (following drownings in 2011), but the Bureau aims to increase signage, and asks the community to help get the word out.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the drowning victims,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. “At this time, the powerful rivers and ever-changing conditions are too unpredictable to be considered safe - until we do more analysis and establish other precautions. I want to make sure the danger of swimming off Kelley Point Park is clear to all park visitors. We will keep the park closed until additional signage is in place.”
Abbaté and Portland Fire & Rescue officials also stressed that there is only so much that signs can do. Portland Parks & Recreation estimates that there is roughly one mile of shoreline at Kelley Point Park, and signs at every water entry point are not feasible.
There is no “safe” river swimming
Portland Fire & Rescue works diligently to rescue swimmers in trouble, but says prevention and awareness are the most effective tools to keep people out of danger.
“Our abilities to rescue swimmers in the situations such as we encountered yesterday are very limited,” says PF&R Chief Mike Myers. “We need to save people before they even get in the water, and we must rely on education, and the community understanding what they face when it comes to nature, to bolster our efforts. We don’t want to see a tragedy like this again.”
Other measures possible
Portland Parks & Recreation will consider long-term solutions in addition to immediate signage; possibly including measures resulting from scientific data on the depth and topography, current, and/or other conditions of the area off Kelley Point Park. We will also ask websites which count Kelley Point Park as a swimming destination to remove the park from their listings.
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