The outdoor pools, operated by the Peoria Park District, will reopen for the summer next week, while the indoor pool at the RiverPlex will close for repairs — and to accommodate lifeguard personnel.
Peoria Park District executive director Emily Cahill said if they can’t get 12 to 14 more lifeguards before the scheduled June 7 opening, the Gwynn Family Aquatic Center will remain closed.
Park District executive director Emily Cahill said getting the pools at the Gwynn Family Aquatic Center and Proctor Recreation Center to open on June 6 will require some “shuffling.”
“It worked out this summer that because of our partnership between the RiverPlex and the Greater Peoria YMCA, we’re going to be closing the pool hall — the AquaPlex at the RiverPlex — in the summer and we’re going to move all of these guards to our outdoor locations (and) support the YMCA, so have.” people still have the opportunity to swim,” Cahill said.
“We still have a lifeguard crisis. We’re not the only ones,” Cahill said. “In fact, the National Recreation and Parks Association gave us a statistic last week that only 12% of public pools across the country will be full this summer.”
Cahill said the NRPA report shows more than 60% of children cannot swim, posing a challenge to recruiting more lifeguards.
“We have a lot of conversations with our employees about how to get more kids involved and interested in swimming lessons so we can grow those lifeguards. But it’s not a quick fix. It’s something we all have to figure out over time,” she said.
The Peoria Park District is closing the indoor AquaPlex at the RiverPlex this summer for maintenance and repairs.
Cahill says the 20-year-old swimming pool at the RiverPlex was in need of some repairs that enabled lifeguard reassignments.
“Think of every place you are where there is water and moisture and metal. What happens? Rust,” Cahill said. “We need to repaint the entire ceiling to maintain the integrity of the facility. We also know that it is time for us to renew the pool basins and none of that can happen with pool water.
“We just made this decision to try and do all the maintenance we can – instead of a short two-week period where we have to shut it down a couple of times, we’re just going to take this big chunk. And to have the outdoor option at the YMCA for our members and for the community, it made sense for us to work together to limit the impact this has had on our community during this time.”