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Earlier Summer Pool Hours Sought in Online Petition

An online petition asks for public outdoor pools in the District to open at 10 a.m. instead of noon.

An online petition asks the DC Government to consider opening DC public outdoor pools earlier in the day during the summer months. The petition suggests opening at 10 a.m. instead of noon, as many currently do.

Capitol Hill resident Lyndsey Medsker started the petition in mid-February and it had 375 supporters as at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The petition states:

"Open DC public outdoor pools at 10am this summer. Make the facilities available to parents of young children, students, elderly and anyone who wants to avoid the dangerous afternoon sun and large afternoon crowds."

Bruce Majors lives near the Francis Pool, just over Rock Creek Park near Dupont Circle. 

"I've given up on using them and I live a few blocks from the one at 25th and N. Whenever I go by they are closed so I gave up on trying to figure out when they are open," he wrote in a post on the Georgetown neighborhood list serv.

Francis, Volta and Jelleff, the three pools nearest Georgetown all opened at noon most days last summer.

Chief of Staff for DC Councilman Tommy Wells, Charles Allen, contacted the petition organizers to let them know that Wells supports the idea of opening pools earlier.

Allen wrote, "there is a lot of demand for opening the pools earlier and supporting a variety of pool uses, rather than just open play. We will advocate for this change with DPR during the budget hearings coming up and ask that they make this change to support our families and pool users."

He told Patch that Wells' office had received hundreds of calls and emails about the pool hours.

Patch reached out to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to find out why the pools do not open earlier and if there is any plan to try to do so.

John A. Stokes, chief of staff at DPR, told Patch that the issue is less about funding and more about finding qualified staff to fill the life guard positions.

"One of the issues around opening pools earlier is the staffing. It's all we can do to hire enough life guards to keep the pools open at the current hours posted. While we have the positions, finding the staff can be daunting for various reasons," he wrote in an email to Patch.

But when Patch spoke with Allen later he said DPR needs to be more "entrepreneurial" and creative about recruiting lifeguards, like advertising at local colleges.

And if it comes down to DPR needing more money, Allen said Wells' office would be "very receptive."

Patch tried to reach Stokes on the phone to talk about the staffing issues raised by Allen, but did not receive a response by the end of the day Tuesday.

Patch inquired at Jack Evans office about his feelings on the subject and is also waiting on a reply.

Would you like earlier pool hours? Are you surprised for the reason DPR gave for not opening earlier?

Bruce Majors February 27, 2013 at 01:06 PM
I think a private company or gym could figure out how to staff a pool when there are customers who would pay to go swimming before work at 5 or 6 am and parents with young kids who say they'd like to go at 9 or 10 am. If Mayor Gray can't figure out how to use all those unemployed teens given make work jobs by the DC government to extend the pool staffs, then the DC government is not competent to run pools and should not be allowed to have them, and should be forced to sell them or give them to private gyms, neighborhood associations, developers or someone else.

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