Last week, Metro Parks of Louisville, Ky., announced that the West End outdoor pool is understaffed by roughly 15 lifeguards, putting the scheduled season opening for Memorial Day in jeopardy.
Parks officials told the Courier-Journal that there are many obstacles to hiring a sufficient number of lifeguards, including a low starting wage and the prerequisite certifications, but the real problem is a rise in violence in the area.
Metro Parks Director Seve Ghose told city officials at a Metro Council budget hearing on Monday that lifeguards are afraid to work at that location. "We're not getting any who want to work at Algonquin," he said.
Louisville police statistics for the Algonquin area list three shootings so far in 2017. On Easter Day, a mother and daughter were arrested about two miles from the pool after beating and killing one woman and shooting another.
Last summer, the Algonquin pool was forced to close for several days when vandals caused around $10,000 worth of damage, filling the pool with fireworks and broken bottles and setting three pieces of playground equipment on fire.
Metro Parks has considered shortening pool hours or keeping the location under police surveillance due to security concerns. "We're actually negotiating with a private security provider to see if they would station themselves there on an ongoing basis,” said Ghose.
As of Monday, only one lifeguard and one pool attendant were committed to working at the Algonquin location, leaving Metro Parks at least five guards short of the minimum supervision required by law.
Parks spokesman Jon Reiter told the Courier-Journal, "We’re investigating other options, including offering shift premiums to those who want to work at Algonquin, to help us get the pool open.”