Boston Forced to Close Pools Amid Staffing Shortages, Facility Issues

Of the 60 lifeguards needed to be at full summer staffing, Boston only has 30

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Families looking to cool off in Boston will have to look a little harder to find pools that are open. The city is closing several pools for the entire summer due to staffing shortages, facility issues or construction projects. 

Pools at the Blackstone Community Center, the Hennigan Community Center, the Holland Community Center and the Perkins Center will all be closed through Summer 2022 due to facility and/or staffing issues. The Clougherty and Draper pools will also be closed for the same reason. 

In addition, the pools at the Mattahunt and Paris Street Community centers and the beaches at the Curley Community Center will be closed because of construction projects that are in progress. 

The city of Boston said it has been trying to hire more lifeguards through aggressive recruiting and outreach. Of the 60 lifeguards needed to be at full summer staffing, Boston only has 30. 

“It’s shocking that we’ve come to this point where we’re actually having to shutdown pools,” Wyatt Werneth with the American Lifeguard Association said. 

Werneth said the cancellation of many lifeguard training classes during the pandemic is one reason they are seeing lifeguard shortages across the nation. He is worried about the impact the shortage could have on the number of drownings. 

Looking to hire lifeguards after years of issues, the Massachusetts DCR has decided to offer wages starting at $21 an hour, sign-on bonuses and retention bonuses.

"We’ve always said swim near a lifeguard, but now our new message is learn to swim America," Werneth said. 

Domingos DaRosa is a community activist who also used to be a lifeguard in Boston. He is calling on the city to do more to recruit future lifeguards. 

"The pool is the heart of the community center. When you lose a pool, you lose its biggest asset," DaRosa said. 

He is also concerned about potential consequences of the closures. 

"I’m worried about the increase of violence that’s going to occur because people aren’t going to have a place to cool off," DaRosa said.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is still looking to hire more lifeguards. The state recently raised the hourly pay rate for lifeguards and is also offering signing bonuses. 

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