Overland Park fends off lifeguard shortages, opens 3 of 5 outdoor pools this summer

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:50 AM CDT
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OVERLAND PARK, Ks. (KCTV) - It’s almost time to be poolside. And while there are still some lifeguard shortages across the metro, some pools are finally getting the help they need.

The City of Overland Park is one of the communities that has had to navigate ongoing staffing shortages, and they believe they have found a balance to be able to open three of their five outdoor pools this summer---Young’s Pool, Stonegate Outdoor Pool and Tomahawk Ridge Aquatic Center. All are set to open their gates starting May 29. The indoor pool at the Matt Ross Community Center will also continue to be open.

While these aren’t the only pools in Overland Park, they will be the only ones to open. Bluejacket Outdoor Pool on Bond Street will be closed, and the Marty Pool on Conser will be permanently decommissioned. One reason is that they are the most accessible to lifeguards they already have. Just last month, the city put out a call for more staffing to combat the shortage that has been plaguing cities and pools across the area, and across the country. The city says since then, they have been able to get their numbers up.

“We have been trying to get the word out through media, emails, websites,” said Meg Ralph with the City of Overland Park. “And since then we’ve been fortunate to be able to be in a spot where we feel comfortable to safely open three of the city’s pools.”

Despite problems with staffing, the Parks Department has been able to get around 150 lifeguards on-board. But they say they need more.

“The only requirement is really Eighth Grade or 15 years old to apply. We will train you. We will get you certified. We will get you onboarded. We’ll get you outfitted with all the stuff,” Ralph said. “So really it’s anybody with those minimum qualifications is welcome to apply.”

The starting pay for lifeguards in Overland Park has gone up from $10.50 an hour to $13.