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Marquette Beach safety

Family and friends of Tiara Hardy sit along the shoreline at Marquette Park Beach while a Lake County police patrol boat searches in the water last month in Gary for Hardy. Hardy disappeared underwater while swimming with two friends. 

Encouraging talk about boosting safety measures on a busy Region beachfront shouldn't just ride the wave of idle, feel-good rhetoric.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and other city leaders must act — for real — and not just float promises.

Earlier this month, we criticized the mayor for downplaying the importance of safety measures, which were absent at Gary's Marquette Beach during the July 23 drowning death of Tiara Hardy.

In a summary statement after the tragedy, Freeman-Wilson told The Times that missing floating safety buoys in the waters off the beach probably wouldn't have saved Hardy's life.

It was poorly constructed cover for a city that couldn't get its act together in working with a vendor to ensure the buoys were properly in place.

In the same editorial, we noted that permanent warning signs that can be left out when waters are hazardous also should be used as a matter of course.

We all can be glad the mayor and other city leaders seem to be taking the matter to heart.

At Wednesday's Gary City Council meeting, Freeman-Wilson said she has directed her traffic department to come up with permanent signage — in addition to removable flags — that would alert beachgoers to dangerous water conditions.

The mayor also said buoys, which have been missing from the waters this summer because of a contract dispute with a vendor, should be in place soon as well.

Now the city must ensure this isn't just lip service designed to fight the wave of public criticism Gary has faced since Hardy's July drowning.

We've all seen too many examples of leaders who ride the wave of populism in making promises, only to leave us high and dry when those waves recede from the public conversation.

Pledges of enhanced safety features must be brought to fruition, and residents should be demanding a concrete timeline and holding the city accountable.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.