Bluffs incidents don't expose city

Brenden West/Clinton HeraldSigns in Eagle Point Park warn residents of the dangers along the bluffs. Last month, another victim fell and was airlifted to Iowa City as a result of his injuries. Similar incidents happen on an almost annual basis.

CLINTON — The city of Clinton is not liable for injuries sustained from falls at the Eagle Point Park Bluffs, according to City Administrator Jessica Kinser. 

One historian who has researched the bluffs’ history wonders if the city can do more to avoid future incidents.

“I would say that (the city has) a very big liability as it is,” writes Gary Herrity, a citizen and historian who has written several articles about “The 1,000 Steps” — a portion of the 80-foot cliff known by many. “There are many routes into the area: from the sides, from below, etc. Posting (warning signs) in one spot does not absolve the city from making the area safe.”

The bluff again received scrutiny last week after a 17-year-old fell July 28 from the cliff, sustaining injuries that required him to be airlifted to Iowa City. Since the victim was a minor, authorities would not release his name to the public.

Lt. Allen Schutte, of the Clinton Fire Department, said last week that the city has taken great measures to prevent catastrophes at the cliffs. He added falling incidents happen on an almost annual basis.

“It’s been in place for several years,” Schutte told the Herald last week. “The park is a beautiful park, but the bluffs are an unmaintained area. The signs are there for a reason.”

Throughout the park are signs that read “Danger Bluff Area.” These signs, Kinser said, are enough for the city to fulfill the public protection obligation.

“The signs notify people that it’s a dangerous situation,” Kinser said. “It’s up to them to decide what to do with those signs and what to do with that information.”

At this time, no policy changes are working its way through the Clinton City Council’s docket regarding the bluffs. Kinser said nothing in the vein of enhanced signage or other safety improvements have been mentioned to her.

“At this point there isn’t anything else planned.” Kinser said. “Nothing has come to me. The signs have been there. The signs are placed in close proximity pretty much everywhere along the roadway. Our expectation is that people will notice the signs and choose not to go beyond that point — because it is dangerous.”

Kinser added the city isn’t exposed to liability because, “We’re broadcasting that that’s a dangerous situation and to not proceed beyond that area.”


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