A summer destination was closed due to staffing challenges, leaving a community disheartened and questioning. With record-high temperatures forecasted immediately following the shutdown, some community members feel heated.
Due to a lack of staffing, the Deer Park Pool faced an unexpected early closure on August 11th, 2023. Despite the city’s efforts to ensure a fully operational and safe environment, the shortage of certified lifeguards left no choice but to shut down the pool, leaving the community disappointed and concerned. The shutdown proceeds with the hottest temperatures of the summer, currently forecasted to exceed 100° four days in a row.
On the first day of July, the Deer Park Pool opened to welcome the public with free access. The city staff had prepared for the season, working hard to assemble a team of certified lifeguards and complete essential facility maintenance. The pool, a popular gathering place for all ages, operated from Monday to Saturday, offering a refreshing adult swim session from noon to 1pm and open swim hours from 1pm to 5pm.
After the July 19th city council meeting, the Deer Park Gazette was verbally told by a city employee that sometime in August, they would have to close the pool if they did not get staffing for the rest of the season. However, emails and voicemails were not returned to confirm the information. As a result, nothing was published in the Deer Park Gazette to raise awareness of job opportunities. One lifeguard stated in July that many of the lifeguards hired for this year would be leaving for school and unable to work through August. This shortage of lifeguards proved to be a critical issue that ultimately impacted the pool’s ability to operate safely and efficiently.
The Deer Park Pool’s early closure left numerous community members disheartened and angry. Many felt that inadequate notice was provided regarding the closure, as a handwritten sign on the pool building’s door was the only indication that the final day of operation would be August 11th due to staffing constraints. The city does not have an email newsletter to notify the community of closures that might impact them. Also, as of the writing of this article, Deer Park City’s official website at DPGazette.com/dpcitypool yielded no mention of the closure. This incident underscored the pool’s valued role as a community space and emphasized the need to tackle staffing challenges to uphold these essential facilities.
Individuals expressed their concerns on social media to share their thoughts and intentions to address the matter. One person mentioned a possible pay increase to entice more lifeguards. In 2021, the city council agreed to increase the pay of the lifeguards to $22 per hour. You can read more about that in our article at DPGazette.com/3q0kt.
Many individuals stated they plan to attend the upcoming city council meeting at City Hall on August 16th at 7:00pm. This forum will allow community members to voice their concerns and discuss potential solutions to prevent similar closures in the future. In order to speak at a city council meeting, you must attend in person and sign up for a chance to speak. The Mayor may choose to limit who speaks and for how long.
To ensure the Deer Park Pool’s sustained operations, prioritizing staffing needs, offering incentives for certified lifeguards, and exploring creative solutions will be vital.