As scorching temps hit region, no relief at city pools due to lifeguard shortage
CHICAGO — Chicagoans looking for relief at city pools won’t have much luck, as many remain closed due to a lack of staffing.
Despite incentives, a lack of lifeguards continues to be a problem for the Chicago Park District.
At the Abbott Park Splash pad, mom Jasmine and 3-year-old daughter Vanity enjoy the mist as a distant alternative instead of the pool.
“We are looking for water, so we just came here to the park,” the mother said. “It’s really hot.”
Chicago Park District officials recently offered $500 signing bonuses to recruit lifeguards but on the park’s website, a quick scroll shows that many of the pools closed last summer with no plans of reopening.
Mayoral candidate Alderman Ray Lopez (15th Ward), part of a crowded field running against Mayor Lori Lightfoot, says he knows of the shortage but feels the city could have done more to bridge the gaps.
“As we go into the summer months, it’s 100 degrees out in the city of Chicago right now, and I am very concerned that we are not going to be providing our youth with safe opportunities to enjoy water in the parks, and they’re going to turn to other things, like opening hydrants on every block and endangering the neighborhoods in the city of Chicago,” Lopez said.
Added Lopez: “All available lifeguard resources are being deployed to the lakefront at the expense of the neighborhoods.”
Locals said they would much rather be in the pool.
“They’re a lot of kids around here, a lot of moms and we haven’t really been able to find any pools around here,” Jasmine said.
Chicago Park District on Tuesday released the following statement:
The Chicago Park District continues to recruit lifeguards and we are currently evaluating staffing numbers. Interested applicants must be 16 and older, a Chicago resident and strong swimmer. To learn more about the job and apply at visit chicagoparkdistrict.com/lifeguards.
Chicago’s lakefront beaches opened for swimming Memorial Day weekend. Lifeguards are on duty daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The District currently has 176 spray features operating across the city and we are working diligently to activate the remaining features.
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