Lifeguard shortage: Robinson limits pool to resident-only access this summer
By Jamie Wiggan
The pool at Clever Park is open to Robinson residents only for the remainder of the 2021 season because of a lifeguard staffing shortage.
During his monthly report June 7, Township Manager Frank Piccolino said the pool’s capacity and opening hours had to be reduced at the last minute the previous weekend because five of eight lifeguards failed to show up for their appointed shifts. This, he said, reflects a larger pattern of lifeguard shortages that are impacting the pool’s operating capacity.
Consequently, weekend hours remain limited to noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, while pool parties have been canceled for the duration of the summer. Piccolino said the pool operators are continuing to train and recruit additional lifeguards with the hope of resuming regular hours in the coming weeks.
“This is not about resident versus non-resident, it’s strictly about staffing and safety,” he said.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, resident Suzanne Morse stressed the Clever Park pool facilities supply an important source of summer recreation to her family.
Fearing opening the pool to neighboring communities would limit access to her family and other Robinson residents, she voiced support for the township’s plan to restrict access.
“Robinson wouldn’t be in the minority of pools that are staying resident-only in this post-pandemic world,” she said, citing several others in the region that have taken the same course.
The public pool in Robinson is just one of many pools locally and across the country that are struggling to retain sufficient numbers of lifeguards this season.
Only eight of Pittsburgh’s 18 public pools are currently open, as city officials struggle to staff the facilities with adequate lifeguards. The Sheraden and Westwood pools servicing the city’s western neighborhoods are both closed at this point in the season.
Just over the Robinson border, the pool at Settler’s Cabin Park is currently open, however, Allegheny County has advertised lifeguard shortages there and at its other three pool locations.
Robinson, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are all offering wages of around $15 per hour in the hopes of filling the shortage.
Other industries, particularly food and hospitality, are also struggling to find staff as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic that ground the economy to a halt for much of 2020 and early 2021.
“This lifeguard situation isn’t just Robinson, it’s a national issue,” Piccolino said.