Lack of Lifeguards at City Pools an Annual Problem

SCRANTON, Pa. -- South Scranton residents wanting to cool off with a dip in the pool at Connell Park were greeted with a sign that reads "pool closed due to shortage of lifeguards at Nay Aug."

A locked gate and an unmanned lifeguard stand are keeping people from beating the heat.

The lack of lifeguards is leading to confusing and inconsistent schedules for more than 50 lifeguards employed at the city's four pools.

"A lot of times we'll show up to one of the pools and lifeguards just won't come or we're short that day because people are on vacation, so then we'll get sent directly from that pool to another pool in the same day," said lifeguard Meghan Padden.

Connell Park may be empty but over at Nay Aug Park, the pool is full of swimmers and fully staffed with lifeguards. That's because the Nay Aug Park pool draws a bigger crowd and it costs $5 to get in, so it's a revenue source for the city.

Lifeguards tell Newswatch 16 that almost every day of the week people come to Nay Aug Park after learning that the pools at either Connell Park or Weston Park are closed.

Money plays a big role in the shortage. Every guard has to pass a certification course and the cost can put a pretty big dent in a high school or college student's wallet.

"It's a little over $200, close to $300 for all of it, which stinks because a lot of kids can't afford that," Padden said, adding that several of her friends wanted to become lifeguards but the price tag for the course scared them off.

"A lot of them were just like, 'I'm only going to be doing it for a few years,' so it really is just the whole process of it along with the money, some people just don't think it's worth it."

Padden says if the city picked up the tab it would help the pools recruit more staff.

"If they were even to just reimburse people, I think it would make a huge difference."

The city is still accepting applications for both year-round and part-time lifeguards. You can apply in person at Weston Field on Providence Road.

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