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While the privately operated Hoyt Park Pool may open this summer, the County Parks-operated pools will not.

Milwaukee County-operated parks pools won't open this summer

Milwaukee County Parks has announced that the deep-well pools that it operates will not open this year, due to the difficulties of social distancing, limits on social gatherings and a lack of lifeguards.

The facilities facing extended closure include Cool Waters Aquatic Park in Greenfield Park, Schulz Aquatic Center in Lincoln Park, Pelican Cove in Kosciuszko Park, Noyes Indoor Pool, Pulaski Indoor Pool, Grobschmidt Pool, as well as the outdoor pools at Washington Park, McCarty Park, Jackson Park, Sheridan Park, Holler Park, Hales Corners Park and Wilson Park.

Hoyt Park Pool, which, although located in a county park, is operated by the non-profit Friends of Hoyt Park, is currently planning to open this summer.

The press release from the County Parks notes, "A lack of lifeguards in the current climate also presents hiring challenges. Milwaukee County Parks needs more than 300 lifeguards to fully staff its aquatic facilities. Finding that number of lifeguards has become a struggle in recent years, and COVID-19 has made hiring even more difficult. Lifeguards will not be present at Bradford Beach either."

"Every decision we're making right now is focused on the safety of our park visitors and our staff," added new Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "It's essential that our services support public health. Unfortunately, the challenges of both COVID-19 and the county's fiscal reality have brought us to this difficult decision."

The release says that, "COVID-19 has taken dramatic tolls on both Parks and county budgets. Milwaukee County continues to provide front line services in response to the pandemic, but increased costs, coupled with $132 million in lost revenue, has led to drastic impacts on the county's ability to provide needed services.

"The County has already seen an estimated $450 million impact on the budget and is calling on State and Federal officials to provide additional resources for the County, so that they may continue to provide the level of service that county residents need and deserve."

Because they do not require trained lifeguards, it is possible that splash pads and wading pools may be able to open for the summer. On this, the County Parks, "is hopeful."

"We're developing park operations plans that are designed to ensure social distancing, prevent congregating, and protect the health of the public and employees," said Parks' Executive Director, Guy Smith.

"Our ability to reopen facilities will also be dependent on available staffing. Because of the fiscal challenges brought on by the pandemic, Parks has 80 percent fewer seasonal staff this summer than in typical years."

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