BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Tuesday morning, the City of Buffalo announced all of its nine outdoor swimming pools would remain closed this summer due to a "severe" lifeguard shortage.
Two indoor pools, at Cazenovia Park and Lovejoy Park, will open from July 1 through September 5 (Labor Day).
But the locations of the pools aren’t sitting well with some community members.
Dr. Monica Miles is both a mother and an environmentalist.
She says the decision is a slap in the face for those living in East Buffalo and that it once again highlights inequities in her city.
“It was a decision that was made to open the two indoor pools so saying we have lifeguards for the indoor pools and or any other pools to me there needs to be more public outcry,” says Dr.Miles.
An outcry she wants the City of Buffalo to understand.
“Cazenovia and Lovejoy pool we will have extended hours to give other residents in different parts of the community to use the pools,” says Mayor Byron Brown.
According to the Census Bureau, the two indoor pools Mayor Brown mentioned are in predominantly White communities.
“The pools in south Buffalo is going to do a couple of things remove people from their communities which they should be having recourse,” Miles says. “They should not have to travel to South Buffalo to go swimming.”
And while Dr. Monica Miles believes this decision highlights a greater issue, Mayor Brown thinks differently.
“There just wasn’t enough lifeguard interest for us to be able to open outdoor pools,” he says.
Miles says the outdoor closing of the pools in most East Buffalo locations adds to the disparity that the Black community in the City of Buffalo faces.
“This is not just about the shortage of lifeguards this is about how you treat the people that are directly impacted with health disparities,” she says. “And we will see an increase in heart attacks and asthma attacks.”
The City of Buffalo says it’s already exploring options for next year.
Mayor Byron Brown said hours will be extended on weekdays and the weekend at those pools, and fees would be eliminated all summer. The hours will be as follows:
Cazenovia Pool (626 Abbott Road)
Monday - 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday - CLOSED
Wednesday - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday – 8 a.m. to 7p.m.
Saturday - 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lovejoy Pool (1171 E. Lovejoy St.)
Monday - CLOSED
Tuesday – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday - 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In addition to the indoor pools, 10 of 11 splash pads are open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Labor Day. Allison Park's splash pad remains closed for pump repairs.
The city began efforts to recruit lifeguards to address anticipated shortages last fall. However, it has been able to hire only 22 additional lifeguards in that time. In 2019, the last year outdoor pools were open, the city had 80 lifeguards to staff the pools.
Mayor Brown announced Tuesday that he had made a request to the Buffalo Common Council to raise pay for lifeguards from $16 an hour to $20 an hour.
The position requires training and certification, which is offered by the city for free this summer.