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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Plainfield gets one pool open before July 4th

The pool at Hannah Atkins sits empty and ready on Wednesday.

Each year, Plainfield
youngsters look forward to the opening of the city's three free swimming pools at the beginning of July. Once upon a time, all three pools opened on time and were open daily for community use.

In recent years, hopes of even opening on time, let alone having a full schedule, have been dashed by the failure of the Recreation Division to solve perennial issues in a timely fashion.

This year's opening date of July 1 was also missed, though the pools appear to be filled and functioning.

A tour of the three pools (Rushmore, Hannah Atkins, and Seidler Field) Wednesday afternoon showed only one pool had been open for use, and was closed by about 3:00 PM. Four teenagers and an Hispanic family were seen walking down the street away from the pool, dripping from a swim. No lifeguard nor umbrellas were spotted, nor was the playground in use.

At Hannah Atkins, the pool glistened but was empty, with no signs of activity, lifeguards or umbrellas. Only four youths with bikes on the grass were gathered at one of the playground's tables.

Seidler Field was busier, with a gaggle of kids riding swings and playing on the playground equipment, and a group of boys was playing basketball. But the pool was vacant, with no sign of lifeguards or umbrellas. (The umbrellas not only shade the lifeguard, but are a signal to all that the pool is open.)

Though promises were made that the pools would open on time, they seem not to have been kept; this year the reason appears (again) to be a shortage of lifeguards.

This is a longstanding problem, and it is hard to figure out why the Rec Division has not been able to overcome it. One swimming instructor I know suggests that the City should pay a higher hourly rate to make it more attractive.

This person points out that Plainfield is the only area community with FREE pools, which means that they draw hordes of youngsters when the pools are open. This is very stressful for the lifeguards, as keeping track of so many energetic kids is difficult.

Another issue is that the way the pools and playgrounds are run, there is little or poor record-keeping about usage, leading to the perennial complaints that the Rec Division doesn't even know how many youngsters it services in order to justify its budget.

Clearly, there is much that can be done to improve Recreation's operation of the pools and playgrounds and justify the large expenditure the City makes every year.

But that will have to await a new administration in January, I am afraid.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rebecca Williams said...


I hope this is not true. I sent a request for information about this to the city administrator two weeks ago. I am still awaiting a response.


Bob said...

With the free pools, perhaps adults or someone 17 or older must accompany any child under 10. There is nothing wrong with an automated ticket system or sign-in for anyone entering the pool area with records begin kept for each day on a spreadsheet for budgeting purposes. The answers are simple, but the administration seems to have trouble with even easy fixes. We also need to budget for enough lifeguards and pay them a few dollars more than surrounding communities to meet our citizens needs.

Bob said...

I don't know why an automatic ticket system of someone at the gate can't have people sign in. Also require children under 10 to be escorted by an adult. Keep records in an Excel spreadsheet and you have what you need come budget time. Seems simple to me.