Warning signs will be placed on public break walls in Ashtabula and Conneaut, according to a press release distributed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District that owns the structures.
“The structures are designed to provide safe navigation in the harbor and are not intended or maintained for public recreational access,” said Josh Feldmann, the chief of Operations for the Buffalo District.
“Safety remains a top priority for the USACE and Buffalo District, which is why we’ve posted signs altering the public to dangerous conditions and directing people to stay off. A person could potentially be exposed to high waves, treacherous and uneven surfaces, and have no way to get out of the water should one fall in.”
Ashtabula Harbor will have one “Danger: Restricted Area, Keep Off “ sign placed at the west breakwater shore connection point and Conneaut Harbor will have a “Danger: Restricted Area, Keep Off” sign placed at the west breakwater shore connection point and a “No Swimming Sign” placed at the breakwater itself. The signs are also being posted in Fairport Harbor, Huron Harbor and Lorain Harbor, according to the press release.
“I think it is a great idea and I am glad they are doing it...It would be nice to have them [people] stay off the breakwall,” said Conneaut Fire Chief Steve Lee.
There have been numerous drownings over the years in Ashtabula and Conneaut connected to the breakwall.
“We’ve had people jump off and not come back up,” Lee said.
A swimmer from Cleveland drowned last summer after leaping of the breakwall and trying to swim a span to the next portion of the breakwall, said Lee and the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office said at the time.
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell was also excited about the idea, according to a Monday afternoon text.
“It is my hope that people recognize the potential risks if the signs are ignored and I strongly recommend that they heed the warnings,” he said.