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Saulsbury Beach in Spicer. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

Spicer, county discuss future of Saulsbury Beach diving tower

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SPICER -- The Spicer City Council is talking to Kandiyohi County officials in hopes of having a popular diving tower restored to County Park 4 on Green Lake.

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Council members met with county officials Tuesday to exchange information and explore the possibilities. The city would like to see the tower, a fixture at Saulsbury Beach, brought back for the summer.

But the county decided to keep the tower in storage at least for this year, citing concerns with liability.

"It just wasn't worth the risk factors at this time," said Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County administrator. "It wasn't a decision that was made easily."

The tower is popular with swimmers but it's also a potential hazard, Kleindl said.

There have been reports of crowding and rough-housing on the tower, and even a couple of injuries last summer, he said. It also has proved difficult to keep swimmers off the tower during times when a lifeguard isn't on duty.

"There's concerns about that. There's issues about the danger that it poses," Kleindl said.

Another concern is the age of the diving tower and how cumbersome it is to install and remove it each year, he said.

Leslie Valiant, Spicer city administrator, described the discussion Tuesday as "fact finding."

"Are there alternatives? Can we find ways if need be?" she said.

Spicer feels it has a stake because the park and Saulsbury Beach are in Spicer, even though the county is the owner, Valiant said. "It may be a county park, but it's part of the city too."

Kleindl agreed that the park is an important visitor attraction for Spicer.

"We understand that. We want to be good partners," he said. "We want people to use the parks. But if somebody could get injured, we want to take safety measures."

A growing number of water parks no longer have dive towers because of the safety issues they pose, he said.

County staff members are undertaking a study that will look at insurance and liability coverage. They'll also look into what it would cost to buy a new diving tower.

Once the information is collected, county officials will report back to the Spicer City Council.

In a budget-cutting move earlier this year, Kandiyohi County also eliminated lifeguards at four of the county's six parks this summer. Park 4 in Spicer was not one of them, however.

The county parks in Spicer and at Games Lake, which see the heaviest use, will continue to have lifeguards on duty seven days a week.

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