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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2012

Early closing

August 11, 2012

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To the editor:

The Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center has provided many residents of Lawrence, young and old, with an opportunity to cool off and get good, healthy, outdoor exercise in a summer that has been so hot that just stepping outdoors has sometimes seemed unbearable. Although temperatures this week have finally dipped below 100, the weather will remain hot for the foreseeable future. No matter how hot it is, we all need fresh air and exercise, and this is especially true for children.

Why, then, is the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center shutting its gates to the children of Lawrence after next weekend? This year, as a result of phenomenally poor planning, the pool will close entirely on the Friday BEFORE Labor Day, and for the final two weeks of the season, it will be open only for lap swimming in the mornings. Pool officials say the problem is that they can’t staff it, but until last year, the pool always managed to find staff to work through Labor Day. The outdoor pool brings families downtown and serves the residents of eastern Lawrence, many of whom walk and bike to it. I urge city leaders to find a way to keep the pool open, at least through Labor Day.

Comments

Joe Hyde 2 years, 2 months ago

I have no information on the details of the staffing problem, only insights as to possible causes. This from having been a lifeguard/pool manager/swim team coach at a neighborhood swimming pool (County Fair Swim Club) in my high school and college years.

Whether it's a municipal or private pool, the majority of operational and lifeguard staff will always be young people out high school and college age. They work at a pool as a summer job. Often you'll have pool staff workers who are enrolled in universities located outside Lawrence, and as fall semester classes loom they must leave Lawrence in August and move to the city where their school is.

Even staff members enrolled at KU, Haskell, LHS or FSHS must at some point in August abandon their summer job to focus on enrollment and commencement of upcoming classes.

It could be that this year an inordinate number of pool staff had to vacate their positions right around this time. If that's the case, one possible way to avoid another such premature shutdown is for the city to develop a roster of local resident volunteers who serve as emergency pool staff, lifeguards, pool cleaners. During the summer months these volunteers could be briefed and trained, even rotated into the "starting lineup" for short periods (to familiarize them with their duties should they be suddenly called upon to take over a vacated position).

Maybe something like this isn't workable due to liability concerns; I wouldn't know. Still, working again in a pool environment would be rewarding duty for former lifeguards, pool managers, snack bar operators, etc. There's a lot of us around. I'm sure many are still quite capable of performing satisfactorily and would be very happy to help.

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