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Two Green Bay community pools may not open this summer due to lifeguard shortage

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 07:23:27-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- For years, residents around Green Bay could walk just a few minutes to their neighborhood pool.

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But Assistant Parks Director James Andersen says this summer, that walk might take a lot more steps.

"We might have one of these 90-degree days coming up and we might not have enough staff to staff all of our pool facilities," Andersen said.

Out of three Green Bay community pools, only one will open on schedule. Andersen says the Resch Aquatic Center is still expected to unlock its doors.

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The Resch Aquatic Center is expected to open next Saturday, June 12, with summer programs starting the week after.

"We're hoping that of course we can open at least one," Andersen said. "And with the staff we have right now, it's all staff contingent."

The problem is a lack of lifeguards.

The city increased pay for new hires at the position by 80 cents to $12.19 an hour. But Andersen says a staffing shortage is being seen across the country.

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"This isn't something that I think is just going to be 'hey 2021, we're dealing with this issue and then 2022 everything's hunky-dory and we're all back to normal," he said.

And local parks are facing the same issue. Green Bay usually offers summer programs for kids at over 30 sites. That number is down to 16.

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The Resch Aquatic Center is still expected to unlock its doors.

"What we offer for our community is unbelievable," Andersen said. "But the fact is we pretty much have to cut what we can offer in locations in half."

For alder Randy Scannell, getting parks and pools open after a rough pandemic year is pivotal.

"You just hate to be in this position," Scannell said. "You want your city fully functioning. For the kids, it's really important."

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For alder Randy Scannell, getting parks and pools open after a rough pandemic year is pivotal.

But while the community waits to swim, Andersen says the future of two pools depends on lifeguards.

"Honestly, it's kind of sad," Andersen said. "Because we have all these awesome opportunities for our community."

The Resch Aquatic Center is expected to open next Saturday, June 12, with summer programs starting the week after. The Green Bay Parks Department is taking a wait-and-see approach with the Joannes Aquatic Center and Colburn Pool.

"Bring [the] Baywatch show back and people would know that lifeguarding is cool again and they can come out and lifeguard for us," Andersen said.

To find out more about Green Bay's youth summer park programs, visit the city's website for job listings and event information.