After several area residents came forward concerned about water safety and education since the drowning death of Port's Tyler Buczek, city officials are engaging in formal conversations surrounding the issue.
Mayor Tom Mlada told the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday that the formation of an ad hoc committee to address water safety issues is almost complete, and will begin meeting soon.
"My charge for this group is ... a forward looking committee," he said. "(T)his should be focused on what we can do moving forward to make our waterfront, our community, a safer place."
The formation of the committee comes in the wake of the drowning death of Buczek in September, who was set to begin school at Port Washington High as a freshman just two days after he died. Buczek had been swimming off North Beach with a group of friends over Labor Day Weekend when he went missing. His body was recovered four days later.
Mlada said the tragedy sparked a sense within the community to look at the waterfront and to see what needs to be done to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
"We have this incredible asset, but inherently there is a risk," Mlada said about the city’s lakefront. "Learning about that risk goes a long way."
There has been a lot of interest in the community to join what will be a 20 member committee, Mlada said, and he asked several members of the community to serve on the board: Barbara Bates-Nelson, who recently spoke about signage issues at the lakefront at a Police and Fire Commission meeting; resident Becky Perez, who Mlada said had come forward with some specific ideas; and Department of Public Works board member Kevin Rudser, who can provide ideas for funding.
Mlada said he doesn’t see it as a standing committee, but one that will get ideas together in a six- to nine-months timeframe. He said the committee would bring its recommendations forward in May or June.
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The committee’s first meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at First Congregational Church. A presentation by the committee for the common council would them take place at the next regularly scheduled council meeting Oct. 16.