Students to design new lifeguard stations

Jordan Pendel, Staff writer

Students attending colleges in Erie County had the opportunity to design a new lifeguard station for each beach at Presque Isle State Park. Finalists for this contest were notified on April 16.

The contest was created by Presque Isle Partnership in association with Presque Isle State Park and Ignite Erie, a $6 million economic development strategy which began in 2014. Ignite Erie has provided funds to this project because the structures currently in place at Presque Isle are outdated, poorly elevated, have a lack of storage space and do not provide adequate sun protection to lifeguard staff.

It was aimed at college students in Erie County who are 18 years or older, both graduate and undergraduate students, to have a chance to impact their local area by improving local beach safety.

Applications for participation were open from March 26 to April 9. Students at any Erie County college or university were eligible to enter by submitting an application through an online form or in hard-copy form.

Participants were also required to write a 500-word essay explaining their experience and design skills and arguing why they should be chosen as a finalist. Students were asked to include a small selection of samples relating to their previous design work.

There was also a list of exterior and interior requirements that students were encouraged to meet in their design for the station. They had to be aware of the windows, a platform, a ramp, information display, weight kit and mobility.

Safety and functionality were the two most important criteria overall, while the design for the interior needed to include adjustable seating for two people.

Entries were also expected to have room for lights, a writing area and space for storage. The lifeguard towers will be set in sand and should be movable in the sandy environment, or collapsible enough to be hauled by Presque Isle State Park trucks and trailers. They must also be durable enough to remain on the beaches in winter months and offer a 360 degree view of the shore.

Each design cost of the station was intended to be under $15,000, excluding the equipment inside.

After the notification of finalists on April 16, those who advance will be invited to meet up at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in early May. There will be an opportunity for finalists to discuss designs with administrators and get advice.

Finalists will meet each other there and can continue their individual work, or form teams of two or more to continue working on a lifeguard station design together.

All finalists will receive $50 for their work. A total of 15-20 submissions will to be chosen to advance.

Posters of the final designs will be on display at Beach 11 during the Best Summer Night Concert on June 22. Members of the public who view the posters can vote, and their opinions will be given weight alongside the opinions of the official competition judges. The full scoring details are yet to be confirmed to successful applicants.

The winning designer will be announced June 29 and will be awarded prize money of $1,000.

The winning design station will provide increased safety to the lifeguards on duty and the public, as it will offer better visibility, sun protection, communication and storage of the guards’ equipment.