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Lifeguard shortages shorten pool season for some Kansas City area swimming pools

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Posted at 7:45 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 08:45:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cities across the Kansas City area are in the process of getting their pools ready for the hot summer months, but staffing challenges are causing some cities to shorten their pool season.

The Kansas City’s Parks and Rec Department says there’s simply not enough lifeguards to open up all city pools.

The 2022 Kansas City Parks and Rec’s pool season will start June 11 and run through July 31 for major pools, and June 11 through Aug. 21 for their two water parks.

Major pools include Brush Creek, Line Creek, Gorman, Budd and Grove Park, while the Water parks are Bay Water Park and Springs Aquatic Center. All city spray parks will be open except for Central, due to mechanical issues.

Arbor Villa, Ashland Square and Jarboe pools are permanently closed due to health risks, and Swope Pool won’t be opening due to concrete issues.

Last year, the city had to close some pools because there weren't enough lifeguards on staff, and they can't guarantee that won't be the case this season.

“It's case by case scenario,” Director of Golf Services & Aquatics Douglas Schroeder said. “Any guard that goes on vacation or decides to quit or anything puts you in a bit of a predicament. We're hopefully going to make it through, we're going to keep trying to hire as many people as possible.”

The department says they typically hire 350 lifeguards ahead of the season and now they are barely over 200. They are also offering free lifeguard training, which takes no more than a week to obtain, as well as hiring bonuses.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep these pools open as much as possible so that people can have a great swimming season this summer,” Schroeder said.

The city says they're still in the process of figuring out what to do with the fill and drain pools, and solutions to rethink those spaces will be addressed in an Aquatics Master Plan the city plans to complete by next year.

“We’re asking for a comprehensive review of the way we deliver services for aquatics in the parks department that have included maintenance operations programming facilities, so we're real excited about that, it’s gonna give us some new directions.”

The city says the fill and drain pools are antiquated and there are currently no filters or systems in place to regulate the pool. People can weigh in on the master plan through public meetings the city plans to schedule soon.