Photo Tuesday at Hamilton Fish Pool by Stacie Joy
NYC is raising the starting wages for all lifeguards to $19.46 per hour — a 22% pay raise — for the summer to help combat the lifeguard shortage that has limited city pool and beach availability.
In addition, officials have developed a training program to fully staff the city's mini pools, such as the one in Tompkins Square Park, for ages 16 and under (and their guardians).
"Every New Yorker deserves to safely enjoy our city's public pools and beaches this summer and my team has taken extraordinary measures to make that happen. Today we reached a deal with the lifeguard union to address the immediate needs of our pools," Mayor Adams said in a statement yesterday.
As Gothamist pointed out:
The temporary pay raise comes as city pools have struggled to open at full capacity or in some cases, at all. Many have criticized Adams for failing to raise the pay prior to the start of the season as problems of a national lifeguard shortage became apparent.
Just how severe is the shortage? Per City & State:
The agreement between the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the union representing lifeguards, District Council 37, is the latest in a long-standing effort to adequately staff the city’s 53 pools and 14 miles of beaches. As of Tuesday, there are currently about 778 lifeguards, which is roughly half of the city’s parks department goal of 1,400 to 1,500 people each summer.
This summer, the city was forced to cancel all swim programs, including lap and senior swim. Starting this past Friday, hours were split into five separate sessions at crowded pools to provide access to more patrons.
In an email from Tuesday, an EVG reader and longtime East Village resident shared his experiences at Dry Dock (above) on 10th Street at Avenue D with his family on the Fourth of July (he shared the letter with local elected officials as well):
The pool service has been downgraded since last year when it was an absolute delight.Specifically the downgrades I noticed are:
- Only half of the main pool was available to swimmers
- The kiddie pool was closed
- The games (corn hole, oversized connect four, etc) weren't out
- The staff said there was an hour wait to get in on all previous days.According to the Parks Department's Twitter, there is a lifeguard shortage. But according to the staff that I spoke with, this lifeguard shortage is because NY state pays more, and so all lifeguards can take a job with the state instead of the city.However, there were no less than 2 police officers on duty at the pool at any time. I don't believe there were any officers at the pool last year.So... the city has money to pay overtime for NYPD officers to be at the pool but not enough to pay a competitive rate for lifeguards?