JOPLIN, Mo. — Memorial Day weekend will mark the start day for summer swim season but like many cities Joplin is experiencing a lifeguard shortage, meaning pool operations will be a little different.
Schifferdecker Aquatic Center will be the only public pool open on Saturday, May 28th in Joplin. Because of staffing issues, Joplin Parks & Recreation will focus their staff at this pool since it is the largest and will be able to serve the most residents.
Later in the summer, Cunningham Aquatic Center will open up and host programs such as morning and evening swim lessons, lifeguard training, and more.
As of now, 42 lifeguards have been brought onboard and trained; this in comparison to the Department’s desired amount of 90 lifeguards which allows for safe operation of both aquatic centers.
While this amount of lifeguards seems high, Joplin Parks & Recreation Director Paul Bloomeberg said this is due to much of their staff being only able to work 15-20 hours a week.
Changes in offered amenities at the pools are cited as another reason for the high lifeguard count, according to a release from the city.
With a limited number of staff this year, Schifferdecker Aquatic Center will open the large competition pool which contains two diving boards, a rock-climbing wall, two water slides, two floatable features, and a basketball goal for patrons. The children’s water playground area will be open, as well as the beach area that offers zero-depth entry. The lazy river and the two slides located in this area will be closed until further notice due to the staffing shortage.
Plans for the new Ewert Splash Park are expected to begin this year, Bloomberg added. It is included in the list of the Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax projects.