Swimming at Lacey’s Long Lake Park might look a little bit different this summer with the implementation of new safety measures. The City of Lacey is committing to changes after an evaluation of the swim area from a professional safety consultant. The improvements include removing the dock and other safety hazards in the water, which will promote a safer swim environment.

City of Lacey Long Lake Park Safety Improvements Dock Removal
To improve the safety of the swimming area at Long Lake Park, the dock will be removed prior to the summer swimming season. Photo credit: Molly Walsh

The City plans to have the upgrades completed by mid-June, in anticipation of the swimming season. The improvements revolve around the safety of park swimmers. “The most significant change is the dock will be removed,” says Jenny Wilson, recreation supervisor for the City of Lacey. “We’re also installing a security camera, and removing underwater safety hazards. There’s some logs, cement blocks, and tangled geo-textile fabric that’s been under there for many years and that’s getting removed.”

Improvements to the park property have been underway for several years, including adding a small-craft launch site in 2018. However, An assessment from a safety consultant inspired the park’s newest set of changes. “Long Lake Park has been on the work plan for several years,” explains Wilson. “We finally started the process by hiringa landscape architect and safety consultant team to review the safety of the swim area, dock, and overall park site.  The safety changes are the first phase.  The second phase is a broader look at the park, its beach, and accessibility.  The landscape architect will provide a few concept plans in May.

Located at a popular swimming area in the city, the dock at Long Lake Park has seen a lot of traffic, particularly from children who swim in the lake. After a review of previous swimming seasons, it was determined that the park’s dock was the culprit in many incidents requiring lifeguard intervention. “This is definitely going to be a safety improvement for the public,” says Wilson. “The majority of rescues that the lifeguards have made over the years have all been around the dock. Removing it is a preventative change. When kids go out on the dock, they have  a highway to the deep end and get into water over their head.  This is a significant safety concern. We want to make a change and be proactive and preventive.

City of Lacey Long Lake Park Safety Improvements Dock Removal Swimming Area
The dock’s removal will allow swimmers at the park to walk into the water more gradually and gauge the water’s depth more accurately. Photo credit: Molly Walsh

Removing the dock will enable children to gradually walk into the water from the shore, rather than jumping into a deeper level than they intended. “Without the dock, kids wade into the water and get to feel the natural slope,” says Wilson. “Then, they naturally can feel their own comfort level and not get too deep. They don’t have that ability when they jump into the water from the dock.”

In addition to safety improvements, the City is also making it easier for park-goers to explore Long Lake on canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, and other non-motorized crafts. “We are putting out a request for proposal to have another kayak and paddleboard vendor, which is something we had last summer,” says Wilson. “The small-craft launch is not just a vendor area. It’s an area where people can bring their own paddleboards and kayaks and launch from the park. It was pretty popular last year.  People would launch their own crafts, go out into water and then come back and picnic at the park.”

As for Long Lake’s dock, it is not going to be retired after removal from the park. The dock’s new home will be the pond at Lacey’s Woodland Creek Community Park near the Lacey Community Center and Lacey Senior Center. “This dock is not getting thrown away,” explains Wilson. “This dock is actually getting repurposed to Longs Pond, which is a fishing area at Woodland Creek Community Park. “It’s a fishing pond for youth, 14 and under, and seniors, 70 and over. We had a plastic fishing dock out there for many years which is currently closed due to damages and in need of replacement.   What a great opportunity to provide the people who fish at Long’s Pond an upgraded dock! The dock isn’t a safety issue at this location because visitors cannot swim at the pond.”

Summer will be here before you know it and thanks to the City of Lacey, Long Lake Park will be safer than ever before, ready for all your summer fun.

To learn more about the safety updates to Long Lake Park and the installation of the dock at Longs Pond, visit the City of Lacey website.

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