Eagle Point Park is a great community asset.
The park is a gem for the city of Clinton and continues to be one of the city’s best attributes. That’s why when part of the park is the subject of a recurring problem, it’s natural for citizens to look for answers.
A 17-year-old on July 28 fell from the cliff in Eagle Point Park, requiring him to be airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. That isn’t the first time that has happened — and certainly won’t be the last.
This issue has crept up several times during the years. In 2010, two falls within weeks of one another caused the city of Clinton to re-evaluate safety measures at the park.
Since that point, the city has erected more signage, making it clear for park patrons that the bluff area is dangerous. And those signs are there for a reason. It is dangerous to traverse those bluffs.
Luckily the falls in the last few years haven’t resulted in any fatalities. That shouldn’t stop the city from exploring ways to make sure falls are limited.
We’ve heard many ideas, including putting up signs that count how many days there have been since the last fall or trimming back some of the trees to make more views of the Mississippi River visible. And there are those who believe we should put money into restoring areas, like the “1,000 steps,” and making it easier to navigate the places behind the danger signs.
Restoring the “1,000 steps” would likely require large quantities of cash from the city that could likely be spent elsewhere. Also, like with many older buildings, the city may run into ADA-compliance issues if they touch those spots, requiring even more of an overhaul.
Is it possible to eradicate all danger for everyone? No. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to achieve safety. Children will always fall off playground equipment, toys will pose a choking hazard and outlets never seem to be completely out of reach of toddlers.
That doesn’t mean those items haven’t become safer. Playgrounds now usually feature a softer ground instead of hard concrete. Many toys are made with bigger pieces to attempt to avoid hazards. And outlet covers are a necessity for homes with small children. Those items can still be dangerous, but over time, things have gotten safer.
The same approach should be taken with Eagle Point Park. It’s a great setting to spend an afternoon and it’s one of the top attractions for visitors. That popularity should allow us to discuss increased safety measures.
There may not be much the city can do. Ultimately, it’s about personal responsibility and for most people, the signs are a pretty good indicator of danger. But that shouldn’t mean we should just stop and shrug our shoulders each time a new fall is reported. This should generate some discussion within City Hall’s walls and, in the future, maybe it won’t be a foregone conclusion to have a fall on an almost annual basis.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.