All Milwaukee County pools will remain closed for 2020 season due to COVID-19

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- All Milwaukee County Parks pools will be closed for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The announcement was made Friday, May 22, during a Milwaukee County coronavirus update. 

According to a news release from Milwaukee County Parks, 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.

Cool Waters Aquatic Park in Greenfield Park, Schulz Aquatic Park in Lincoln Park, nine outdoor pools, and the two indoor pools at Pulaski and Noyes will remain closed over the summer. Lifeguards will not be present at Bradford Beach either.

COVID-19 has taken dramatic tolls on both Parks and county budgets, the release says. 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. 

“Every decision we’re making right now is focused on the safety of our park visitors and our staff,” said 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.”

Parks is hopeful that many splash pads and wading pools, which do not require trained lifeguards, will still be able to open to provide relief from summer heat to neighborhoods across the county.

“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% fewer seasonal staff this summer than in typical years.” 

The extended deep-well pool closures 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, and outdoor pools at Washington Park, McCarty Park, Jackson Park, Sheridan Park, Holler Park, Hales Corners Park, Wilson Park and Grobschmidt Pool. Hoyt Park Pool, which is operated by the non-profit, Friends of Hoyt Park, is still planning to open this summer.

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