PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — City workers are trying to reopen Petersburg’s only public pool, but the city needs to hire enough lifeguards in order to do so.
Farmer Street Pool is the only public pool in Petersburg and many residents are wondering when it will open its doors to the public, especially as temperatures rise this summer.
Marquis Allen is the Director of Recreation, Special Events and Volunteerism for the City of Petersburg. Allen told 8News, they’re dealing with the same issue that the entire region is facing this season, which is the difficulty of hiring lifeguards.
“Making sure that people that come to the pool are able to enjoy it and so they actually feel safe,” Allen said.
The pool has been closed for a few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a hot topic and this is something that the community really wants and deserves,” Allen said.
The team started by identifying the condition of the pool, and it was determined that work definitely needed to be done before it can be used again.
Through federal funds, contractors worked on plastering the pool and cleaning it. They also fixed all of the steps, some of the lighting, put chemicals inside and made sure the pump was working properly. The pool was also power-washed and drained.
“There’s a lot of history with this community pool so we want to be able to bring it back and provide the necessary resources to be able to accomplish that goal,” Allen said.
According to the city, they are aggressively raising the hourly pay for lifeguards in order to get more applications. The pay starts at $17 an hour and the head lifeguard position starts at $19 an hour.
The city is in the process of hiring two lifeguards, a decision that is expected to be finalized on Friday, July 15. Allen said they are also hiring four lifeguards that are going through training to receive certification. The candidates will find out if they can pass the test on Friday as well.
From there, the city will determine if they will still need to recruit or establish some partnerships.
According to Allen, city employees understand the importance of opening the pool again.
“We want to be able to give our community and particularly our youth, something to do,” Allen said. “We understand the crime spikes throughout the United States and we want to be able to have an opportunity for our youth and our families to be able to have somewhere to go, in a safe environment, and to also enjoy recreation.” Allen added, “Exercise is extremely important especially during these times.”
Allen told 8News that the city hopes to purchase a cover for the pool in the future. In addition, he hopes there will eventually be a master plan to identify what else needs to be done. He said he would like to see a splash pad be added to the facility to serve the community and help with risk management. He also wanted to look into starting an aquatics division.
If everything goes according to plan, city leaders hope to reopen the pool on Tuesday, July 19. Pool hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m.
The pool is expected to be open until Labor Day.