Unless The Weather Channel and meteorologists have lied to us, it’s going to be in the high 80s and 90s for the foreseeable future.
Wondering how the lifeguard shortage is going? Need a cooling station? Still waiting for Congress Park pool to open?
We have all the updates on the things you need to keep cool this month. Don’t forget to hydrate.
But first, here’s an update on the Congress Park pool.
Bad news: There is still no opening date for Congress Park pool, but Denver Parks and Recreation along with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said the pool will open this summer.
The holdup is the epoxy paint coating the pool that waterproofs it. DOTI spokesperson Nancy Kuhn said the paint needs to cure and that curing process is weather-related. Kuhn added that the weather was great in April, but the late May snowstorm set things back.
“Because construction is always weather-dependent and dates are subject to change, I don’t have a date to share with you today, but we still expect the pool to be available for use before the summer is up,” Kuhn said.
Congress Park pool recently underwent a $10.1 million renovation as part of the Elevate Denver Bond program voters passed in 2017. The pool was built in 1955 and required renovations to accommodate growth in the neighborhood and to modernize it.
La Alma pool
Last month, when Parks and Rec announced that La Alma pool would be closed for the season due to inspections and possible repairs, community members asked to be bussed to a nearby pool.
Well, DPR is delivering, literally and figuratively.
Free transportation will be provided to La Alma residents, ages 8 and over, on Tuesdays and Thursdays to Garfield Pool. Residents have to sign up for the service at noon on Mondays at the La Alma Recreation Center.
Parks and Recreation spokesperson Cyndi Karvaski said there’s one bus per day, and it transports 14 passengers. On Tuesdays, pick up is at 11 a.m. and drop-off is at 2 p.m. On Thursdays, it’s 2:30 until 5:30 p.m.
Karvaski said demand has been minimal, but if needed the department will add more days and times.
The demand for lifeguards is not minimal, and that demand isn’t solely a Denver issue. Lifeguard shortages across the nation are causing local pools to close.
Bernard Fisher, director of the American Lifeguard Association, told a North Carolina news outlet that shortage isn’t a new problem, but it’s been exacerbated due to the pandemic and an increase in pool construction.
“We [usually] bring in about 300,000 new lifeguard candidates every year. The first year of the pandemic, we pretty much didn’t train anyone,” Fisher said. “Also, the certification is good for two years. So the people who got their certifications two years before the pandemic, they needed to come and renew it … but we missed them.”
The sentiment was echoed by Karvaski. The pandemic closures delayed training, and folks who typically return to the job became unavailable. Several indoor pools will remain closed this season.
Last month, Gov. Jared Polis said the state would issue grant money to local governments to assist with hiring pool employees. Now Denver is offering a $1,000 cash incentive for those who successfully pass the city’s certification requirements after June 21. Applicants must begin working by September 30 in order to be eligible.
A press release from Parks and Rec said the certification test includes swimming 300 yards, treading water using only legs for two minutes, and completing a timed event that involves bringing a 10-pound weight to the surface in a simulated rescue scenario.
The incentive was announced this week, so it’s unclear whether an influx of applications has been received.
Karvaski said lifeguards are on-call employees and are typically students.
“When the outdoor pool season ends, the six indoor pools will reopen, and lifeguards will transition back to their indoor pool assignments,” Karvaski said.
Though temperatures are expected to hit the high 90s this weekend, a heat advisory has not been issued.
Karvaski said the decision to activate “cooling stations” at recreation centers is up to the Department of Health and Environment, but that activation is typically decided if a heat advisory is issued by the National Weather Service.
Cooling stations are typically at rec centers and free to access. Staff members can get residents water and ice, if needed.
It’s unclear whether the health department will activate any of the centers, but Karvaski said regardless, rec centers and public libraries can be used to cool down during business hours.
“Our centers are always open for anyone that may need to come in from the heat or the cold,” Karvaski said. “Libraries are regularly open to the public free of charge. If warming or cooling centers are needed, any member of the public can come inside to access water fountains, restrooms, and a place to sit down during normal business hours.”