Stafford votes to close city pool on Memorial Day
By Karen Daniels
This decision didn’t come without thorough discussion at the April 2nd Stafford City Council meeting. Due to the inclement weather experienced this winter, SMSD was closed on January 24 and January 28 and must make up these days. The previously approved district calendar designated weather make-up days as April 18 and May 26. The first date is the religious holiday, Good Friday. In a letter to parents, the District stated “a student can receive an excused absence by their parent submitting a note indicating that the absence is for religious reasons.” But what about Memorial Day? That’s the second make-up date chosen and approved by SMSD.
Susan Ricks, Director of Civic Center and Recreation, made the recommendation to Council that due to the students required attendance at school, the pool be closed. Mayor Scarcella mentioned that “others may want to use the pool” not just school-aged kids. Ms. Ricks explained that many of their lifeguards attend high school. Without these lifeguards the City would not have adequate staff needed to properly supervise the swimmers. Additional problems include parking congestion for the pool with pick-up and drop-off of the cars and buses. Historically, Memorial Day is busy at the pool as it marks the kick-off to summer. The pool will be open on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25.
Councilman Fred Woolridge said, “It’s a holiday for others” and wanted to consider other available options to keep the pool open. “Six lifeguards are needed,” Ms. Ricks said. And since other districts in the area are also using Memorial Day as their weather make-up day, there is a lifeguard shortage for that day.
“There will be some disappointed families,’ the Mayor said. Councilman Robert Sorbet was not pleased to hear about the pool closure. He conceded that “safety-wise we have to do this,” but went on record to say that he was “disappointed in the school district for choosing this day when they had other appropriate days to choose from.” He asked that Mayor Scarcella bring this up with the new Superintendent because Memorial Day is “impactful for families.” A motion to close the pool on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26 passed unanimously.
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