By DIANE WILLIAMS
After a year-long lobbying effort by DC 37 leaders, the City Council agreed to add a cool $1.7 million to the 2017 budget to extend the season at public outdoor pools a week past Labor Day — the same as public beaches.
“We welcome the additional funds that finally bring parity for our dedicated Lifeguards and Supervisors who protect lives at Parks Department outdoor pools and beaches,” said Peter Stein, president of Lifeguard Supervisors Local 508. “All New Yorkers deserve equal access to the city’s beaches and pools.”
As climate change makes for sweltering Septembers, the City Council introduced a bill in 2015 that kept public beaches and pools open a week past Labor Day, the Parks Dept.’s official closing date. But in the end, the city omitted outdoor pools.
Stein said the failure to fund the extended season for the city’s 39 outdoor Olympic thousands of inner-city residents who use those facilities and intermediate pools overlooked the dozens of City Lifeguards and other Parks staff who work in the pools.
“Unequal allocation of funding creates unequal treatment,” Stein said at a City Council Parks Committee hearing in March. He also raised serious safety issues, saying, “When pools are not open, people — especially youngsters — will find unsafe, unsupervised bodies of water to swim in.”
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, Lifeguards Local 461 President Franklyn Paige and Stein worked closely with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine and others to address the funding disparity.
“New York City’s beaches and outdoor pools have always served as powerfully democratizing institutions, bringing people from all backgrounds together,” said Levine.
“For millions of New Yorkers who can’t afford to vacation in the Hamptons or take a cruise in the Caribbean, these places offer exceptional summer recreational opportunities right in the five boroughs — free to enter and open to all,” he said.
The season for city outdoor pools begins June 29. Pools will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. City Lifeguards patrol nine public beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
City Lifeguards are vital first responders who for two years have ensured that no fatalities occurred at any public pools or beaches.