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Prospect to be opened on a limited basis | News, Sports, Jobs

Prospect Pool will open this summer, despite concerns about participant behavior and loopholes that make its long-term future uncertain. But the pool will have limited hours due to lack of staff.

Despite scouring the area for candidates, the Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission was only able to recruit six lifeguards, including one part-timer, a manager and a cashier. So that can only keep the facility open six hours a day, four days a week, according to commission executive director Mike Hofer.

Unless he can bring in additional lifeguards in the meantime, pool hours will be limited to noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from June 7 to August 13, Hofer said. .

“We really want to try to open this facility to the public,” Hofer said. “(But) right now, for anything more, I don’t know how we would cover it.”

Over the past several weeks, commission staff have been prepping the pool — draining, cleaning, sealing cracks, repairing concrete and painting, Hofer said.

On Monday, after the malleable material has hardened, workers will begin adding water, and by the end of next week they will “Turn on the pumps and make sure everything is working” Hofer said.

If three or four other certified lifeguards agreed to work at Prospect, the commission could “add a day or two – or even three”, Hofer said, although the commission has already tried several job fairs, school events and online recruiting websites.

Realistically, the commission would need 11 or 12 lifeguards to operate seven days a week, Hofer said.

As things stand, daily calls could mean impromptu closings even with the limited schedule on offer, Hofer conceded.

Perhaps the commission could face an appeal by closing the diving well. But if two or three workers call on a given day, “we might need to put up a sign that says we can’t open,” he said.

To deal with the behavioral issues that have plagued the facility in recent years, the commission had hoped to employ a security presence.

But the company she regularly deals with couldn’t spare the staff, Hofer said.

The board, however, hopes to maintain control this summer with the help of periodic visits from city police officers, Altoona area school district police officers, and with a new no-tolerance admissions policy that will require anyone 15 and under to be accompanied by an adult, Hofer says.

Most of the problems in recent years have been caused by middle schoolers, Hofer said.

City Police Chief Joe Merrill agreed to beef up the “local police” presence when the pool is open, said Matt Pacifico, board member and city mayor.

In addition, Merrill will amend his department’s memorandum of understanding with the school district police department so that the pool falls under the jurisdiction of district officers, Pacifico said.

District police know the kids — and know which ones typically cause trouble, said board member Ed Frontino.

Conversely, the children know the officers, they said.

The new policy will require any pool patron who is removed to be banned for the entire summer, with infractions triggering that “include but not limited to foul language, theft, lifeguards and CBRC staff, pushing others into water, tricking age, pretending to drown, fighting, entering breaking and entering, vandalism, possessing a weapon, physical violence, assault and failure to follow posted rules and policies. »

A pool attendant will enforce the requirement that children 15 and under must be accompanied by someone at least 18, Hofer said.

Because children often don’t have identification cards, guards may need to take the word of those claiming to be over 15, he said.

Guardians may also sometimes need to rely on the word of suspected adults accompanying these children – although anyone over the age of 18 is likely to have access to an ID card, according to Hofer and board member Dave Francis. administration.

While relying on children’s honor may result in some entering without an adult, even a single instance of lying means a ban for the rest of the season, Hofer said.

And “nine times out of 10” the staff will discover a lie, because “Children talk and parents talk” Hofer said.

While the pool will open this summer, its long-term future remains murky.

A consultant hired by the city to assess the condition of the facility and estimate the cost of repair or replacement options has yet to complete the task, Hofer said.

The consultant was to review the pool and deck masonry, electrical and filtration systems, locker room and lights and what is required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The consultant will provide estimates on the cost of a minimal return to operation, replacement of the original state of the installation and replacement with an up-to-date installation that would not necessarily be in the same location, a Hofer said.

Among the major problems are leaks; the pool lost a foot of water a day last summer.

The current city council, however, supports Prospect, Pacifico said.

The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.

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