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The pools look great at summer’s end

Just don’t try to actually use one

By The Mercury

The irony of the entire debate over the length of the pool season lies in learning that the city has built a set of pools so large, so involved, so elaborate, with so many gadgets and fun diversions that it is no longer practical to actually use them.

You buy three pools and get a full set of Wedgwood china … not in addition to, but instead of.

That’s the practical impact, as of mid-August each year, that pool users are being told they’ll have to live with. The problem is that the pools are so large, with so many bells and whistles, that they now require a small company of highly trained, specialized and extremely seasonal personnel in order to keep them open. It takes as many as 30 people, most of them certified lifeguards, to keep the new City Park pool open. You can operate CiCo or Northview pools with fewer, but even they require close to a dozen.

It is the nature of lifeguards that they tend to be bronzed, sculpted college kids who have other things going on – like college – in August. Try scaring up a dozen of them once school activities begin. We’ll take the city’s word that it’s a daunting challenge.

Perhaps some parents would be willing to go through the rigors of lifeguard training and make themselves available nightly for two or three weeks in order to staff the pools through to Labor Day in exchange for minimum wage pay. Any volunteers?

It is true that this was less of a problem 10 or 12 years ago. It is also true that the pools then were smaller, less elaborate, and had fewer slides, gadgets and staff-intensive technology.

We probably should have seen this coming when the pool bond issue was submitted to voters, and those contending that the point about decreased availability ought to have been made in advance can feel free to speak that argument. But the reality is that we are dealing here is a foreseeable consequence of our communal desire to possess really, really nice stuff. The bulk of that stuff tends to lie around mostly unused. It’s not Wedgwood, but it’s Wedgwood-ish.

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