The city of Amsterdam’s Facebook post announcing the closure of its municipal pool late last week raised eyebrows on the social media forum.
“Hottest time of the year and the pool is closed?” one person wrote.
The notice — which was also on the city’s tourism, marketing and recreation webpage — offered no explanation for the early closure, and efforts to reach Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti and Rob Spagnola — Amsterdam’s marketing, tourism and recreation director — were unsuccessful Sunday.
The Olympic-sized pool within the Veterans Park complex typically remains open through August during summers, according to the city’s website.
But the national and regional shortage of certified lifeguards has been well-documented, and in July, the town of Niskayuna partnered with the American Red Cross to offer a weeklong training for certified lifeguards, in response to the shortage.
On June 15, close to the July 1 opening of the Amsterdam pool, the city put out notice that it was in need of full- and part-time lifeguards for the city pool.
The concern of maintaining certified lifeguards for employ through August isn’t a new concern in the region, considering those jobs are mostly held by college students who head back to their respective campuses before the month is over, officials said.
Schenectady closed all four city pools Aug. 20, which is about when the city typically closes them, according to Shane Bargy, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady, which manages the city’s pools.
It is in consideration of its approximately 50 lifeguards who are now headed off to college, Bargy said.
Also, the Boys and Girls Club enters a weeklong shutdown during the last week of August, to catch an organizational breather, Bargy said.
Although some in the Electric City have called for the pools to stay open through Labor Day, Bargy called it “logical” for Schenectady and other local communities to close them prior to the holiday.
“It’s not like you have 40- and 50-year-old lifeguards who are just hanging around, waiting to lifeguard in the summertime,” he said. “It’s just not the way it works.”
It was a busy summer for swimming in Schenectady, Bargy said. He noted that on some days there were more than 400 swimmers at the city pool in Central Park, necessitating as many as 14 lifeguards.
“There were lots of moments during the summer where the pools were very badly needed,” Bargy said Sunday. “We had some very high heat, high humidity days.”
Bargy said he’s proud that this year’s program met the demand of swimmers.
“It takes a lot of coordination, a lot of hiring and a lot of scrambling, honestly, to get enough guards to keep all four pools safe,” he said. “It’s hard to find employees right now as it is. And we were scrambling to find enough lifeguards, and we got to the bare minimum we could do to keep and maintain all four pools and keep them open.
“We didn’t have to shut one pool down this summer based on not having the requisite number of guards, and I’m really proud of that.”