Charlottesville Parks and Recreation still seeking lifeguards; no date yet for Smith reopening

This week, Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board got an update on preparations underway to get the city’s pools and spraygrounds ready. 

“We are currently still developing our operational hours and what that’s going to look like at our outdoor facilities,” said Gator Batton is the interim manager of aquatics for the department. “The goal is to open Washington Park, Onesty, and Smith.” 

Of those three, only Washington Park opened last summer. Onesty Park didn’t open because of a shortage of lifeguards and Smith Aquatic Center has remained closed for the duration of the pandemic due to repairs to address air quality issues. 

Hours and operations will depend on having lifeguards in place, and Batton said there are currently 65 set up for the summer. 

“We have looked at some creative ways of recruiting and trying to bring in certified lifeguard staff as well encouraged current staff to stay with us throughout the summer,” Batton said. 

These include waiving fees for certification courses, $250 signing bonuses, and a second bonus at the end of the summer. The city is also looking to outsource operations of Onesty Pool and there’s a request for proposals on the street. 

Vic Garber, the deputy director of the department, said they need at least 25 more lifeguards for full operations this summer. 

Garber said testing has been completed at Smith Aquatic Center. 

“This included the filtration and chemical feed system,” Garber said. “We had National Pools do that. We basically passed that with flying colors.” 

Air qualities have been conducted by two different firms. 

“It should be totally sound from any type of chloramines or chlorine smell,” Garber said. 

Tests will continue to be conducted after the pool opens and people are using it. An opening date will be announced after the results of a third test. Garber also said the equipment in the fitness room is being replaced.

“When people come in, they need to smile and stay as long as they want and be happy,” Garber said. 

Batton said the hope is to have the spraygrounds at Belmont, Greenbrier, Tonsler, and Forest Hills Parks operational in less than a month. 

The goal is over the next two weeks to test out water features, balance water chemistry, and our project opening for those is May 14,” Batton said. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 16, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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