As the Chicago Park District postpones the opening of swimming pools, the alderman fears they may not open at all this summer

CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Park District has postponed the opening of its public swimming pools until July 5, saying it is still struggling to hire enough lifeguards, but some city leaders are not buying it.

In Pilsen, the gates to the Dvorak Park pool are closed and lifeguard chairs are empty, with no one on duty, as Jose Rodriguez hoped to take his nephew Eric to the pool in the neighborhood.

“Yes, he likes to swim,” Rodriguez said. “It would be nice, but only the Park District knows. We are not the bosses.

The Park area says a shortage of national lifeguards is delaying the opening of the pools until at least July 4, and from Pilsen to Palmer Park the sprinklers are on, but the fountain is full of debris while the sun shines on the empty pool.

“Where should the children go for the summer?” Said father Victor Tatum, who is worried about where the young people will go and what they will do without a place to hang out.

“If they have nothing to do, I mean they will find something to do. “It may not be the best thing to do, but they will find something to do,” he said.

So far, efforts to increase the number of rescuers with bonuses have failed to prevent delays.

Lifeguards receive $ 15.88 an hour, just over the minimum wage, and less than 24 hours before the pool opening was announced until July 5, Park District officials increased the signing bonus to $ 600.

The Chicago Park District manages 49 outdoor pools and 28 indoor pools. All pools were due to open by June 24, but after it was postponed to July 5, some city leaders are worried that the pools will not open at all this summer.

“The whole city? All the pools in the inventory? It won’t happen,” Ald said. Anthony Beale (9th).

Biel said people in the city were shocked by the delay. He said 1,600 rescue posts should be occupied. He also said it would take weeks to get balanced chemicals in the pools. So we expect the pools to open in August at the earliest.

“We have already said that the children do not come to the city center because we have a curfew against you, so go back to your community. So what are you going back to? An empty pool? ”He said.

Biel said it comes down to poor planning.

“We know that June comes every year. We know that these pools must be open every year. We have to hire people every year. So someone dropped the ball, “he said.

In a statement, the Chicago Park District said it needed time to hire and implement a strategy that would provide resources to as many communities as possible, as well as to test and recruit new employees.

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