Local town pools set to reopen this summer; lifeguards needed

  • Lifeguards Nikki Bell and Liam McCall at Cunningham Pond in Peterborough last summer. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/9/2021 2:03:43 PM

With temperatures up in the 90s all week long, heat-weary locals are eying their town pools, which are set to reopen this month.

Peterborough, Greenville and New Ipswich each canceled summer pool seasons last year, as many communities were still under tight COVID-19 protocols. This year, with transmission numbers in the state still dropping and an increasing amount of people completing vaccination protocols, all three pools are scheduled to open up for the summer.

Current Centers for Disease Control guidelines show that there is no evidence that COVID-19 transmits through treated water, but is still recommending general guidelines for pools that include social distancing, including in the water. Masks are still recommended when visitors can’t social distance, but shouldn’t be worn in the pool or while wet.

Peterborough Recreation Director Lisa Koziell-Betz said while the Peterborough Town Pool is set to open June 17, preparing for the season hasn’t been without its pitfalls – including a lack of staff.

“Getting the numbers to guard, plus guards willing to commit to the entire summer, it’s a wicked jigsaw,” Koziell-Betz said.

Currently, Peterborough has between 14 and 16 guards potentially lined up for the summer, some pending completed lifeguarding certifications. To fully staff both the pool and Cunningham Pond, the town usually hires about 20, Koziell-Betz said. As a result, unless additional guards can be found, Peterborough intends to only staff the pool, and leave Cunningham Pond swim-at-your-own-risk.

Staffing may also impact the available swim hours at the pool, Koziell-Betz said.

As to COVID-19 protocols, they will be a factor. The Peterborough pool will be requiring reservations during weekend swim hours to prevent over-crowding. For a dollar, residents can reserve a swim spot.

Reservations can also be made at Cunningham Pond, which currently has a restriction of 25 cars at a time.

There will also be a capacity limit. Koziell-Betz said she calculated there is enough room in the pool area for 40 10-foot squares for families. Initially, she intended to further limit that capacity, and only use about 25 of those spots, but said those calculations were made when recommended protocols were stricter than they are currently, and will likely be reworked. Even with looser restrictions, Koziell-Betz said it’s likely there will be a capacity limit of between 180 and 200 people, and the staff reserve the right to lock down entrance if the pool becomes too crowded.

The New Ipswich Town Pool is anticipating opening for swim lessons and open swim on June 21.

“Restrictions are still being considered at this time, but we will follow state and CDC guidelines,” said Recreation Director Shawna Kutyla. Kutyla said she is also in discussion with other local pool directors about their guidelines before New Ipswich finalizes its own protocols.

The town is also anticipating the return of its local swim team.

Kutyla said New Ipswich is also feeling the pinch from the lifeguard shortage, and with less than two weeks until the anticipated pool opening date, are not yet fully staffed and are still hiring.

“There is a definite lifeguard shortage this year,” Kutyla said.

The town of Greenville is still hashing out details of what its pool season will look like, but are currently planning to open the pool as of June 19, according to Town Administrator Tara Sousa.

The Select Board was scheduled to discuss its masking policy at the Town Hall on Wednesday, and Sousa said that discussion would influence masking on other town properties, including the pool house. However, at this time, she said she anticipates the pool will open with minimal restrictions.

“We’re anxious to open and have people take advantage of it again,” Sousa said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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