The Iowa Departments of Public Safety and Natural Resources are teaming up to address concerns with excessive partying at an Iowa Great Lakes beach. Iowa DNR State Parks Bureau Chief Kevin Szcodronski says up to 5,000 young adults are expected at the Gull Point State Park beach over the July 4 weekend.
This year, the DNR will have more park rangers combing the beach for underage drinkers and those that are drinking too much. “Last year, we had a couple instances where we really had a hard time getting an ambulance down there and there was some alcohol poisoning and some people passed out,” Szcodronski said. “That’s not any good if we can’t provide them that assistance.”
In recent years, the Gull Point State Park beach has become a popular party spot on the holiday weekend because towns around the Iowa Great Lakes have banned alcohol from the city park beaches. The Gull Point beach is only about the size of half a football field, but college age students by the thousands pack the area. “Tradition has shown us the last few years, there will be overdrinking, there will rowdiness and there will be some people, unfortunately, who will need some help from a medical standpoint,” Szcodronski said.
In addition to the increased beach patrol, the DNR will add officers on the lakes looking for drunk boaters and state troopers will be conducting stops on the roads leading out of the Iowa Great Lakes. Szcodronski insists the additional enforcement is all about safety. “So far we haven’t had any fatalities, drownings or whatnot…we had a few people passing out…but we need to prevent that,” Szcodronski said. “Unfortunately, some people need help to make the right decisions and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The two agencies will hold a press conference at Gull Point this morning to provide more details on the holiday project. The DNR initially asked for an emergency ban on alcohol at the northwest Iowa beach, but the Natural Resources Commission rejected the idea. DNR officials have proposed an alcohol ban for the beach starting next year on the Fourth of July weekend.