Victoria public pool closed for the season
By BY MELISSA CROWE - MCROWE@VICAD.COM
July 1, 2014 at 2:01 a.m.
Updated July 2, 2014 at 2:02 a.m.
Just two weeks after the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool opened, city officials are pulling the plug on the summer swimming season.
With three of the four lifeguards scheduled to leave for vacation, Parks and Recreation Director Colby Van Gundy said the city is "having a rough time at the pool."
"I'm real nervous about putting people through that pool without proper supervision," said Van Gundy, who has filled in as a lifeguard since opening day June 18. "My recommendation is going to be close the facility. We do not have enough guards."
Private pool parties scheduled through the next few weeks will still be accommodated, City Manager Charmelle Garrett said.
The pool's namesake, Gary Moses, was disheartened by the news but optimistic that children will continue to have opportunities for fun.
"It's sad because it's a great location, and it serves a lot of people," Moses said. "I'd love to see it still open and thriving like it can."
At one time, the municipal pool was open from noon to 9 p.m. daily and offered morning swim lessons, SCUBA classes and parties almost every night of the week to hundreds of visitors, he said.
"Knowing that pool served a number of people, it's been a great asset not just because of my name but because it was a great place for a number of years," Moses said. "I hope for the best that they'll have something in the future for the kids to do. I just hope that things work out where there's still the ability for kids to swim and do things in that area and around town."
Julia Beltran, 50, of Victoria, made it to the pool's opening day with her grandchildren.
"They love going over there," she said. "We were going to go this Thursday."
Her grandchildren will be disappointed and upset that the pool season is ending before the Fourth of July and the hottest days of summer.
While she knew there were not enough lifeguards, she said she never felt her family was unsafe.
"I don't let them out of my sight," Beltran said. "I'm constantly right behind them."
The splash pad on Airline Road is fun, but she said her family prefers swimming.
"I wish there were some way we could get them to open it back up again for the kids," Beltran said.
Joann Sanchez, 56, of Victoria, also was at the season opening with her grandchildren.
She said she does not understand why the city cannot find any lifeguards and called the closure "ridiculous."
"I don't know if they're being picky on who they get," she said. "One of my friend's daughters had put in an application for it. She's certified to be a lifeguard and never got called back."
The city began recruiting for lifeguards in February and was active at the schools, going so far as to offer pay incentives for those who stayed through the end of season. In a typical season, the city hires 12 lifeguards.
"For years, we've had problems getting people to come to the pool to work," the city manager said.
Mayor Paul Polasek mentioned a fatal drowning that occurred Monday at a Robstown pool that had 10 lifeguards on duty.
"Safety is paramount," he said. "If we can't do it safely, we don't need to be doing it."
Later in the meeting, the City Council opened a public hearing about a draft of the annual action plan for the Community Development Block Grant program.
That funding can be used to open a splash pad on the grounds at the municipal pool once the new pool facility opens at the YMCA of the Golden Crescent.