Bangor residents are urging metropolis officers to lift the hourly wage for municipal lifeguards and use incentives like sign-on bonuses to attract individuals to the job after a lifeguard scarcity compelled the town to maintain the Dakin Pool closed for a minimum of the beginning of summer season swimming season.
Whereas residents are calling for the town to do extra to make sure the Dakin Pool on Bangor’s east aspect opens this season, there’s additionally an effort afoot to resurrect a neighborhood group that raised cash 15 years in the past to construct a pool home and supply for a number of years of free admission for youths.
This time round, the fundraising would concentrate on long-term enhancements on the pool and a scholarship fund to attract extra college students to lifeguard positions in an effort to stop persistent shortages.
Whereas Bangor’s municipal pool on the Beth Pancoe Aquatic Heart off Union Road opened for the summer season on Monday and is open day-after-day of the week, the Dakin Pool will stay closed till the town can rent extra lifeguards.
The hourly wage for a metropolis lifeguard ranges from $12.75, Maine’s minimal wage, to $14.40.
Resident Kim Livingstone requested the metropolis on Monday evening to acknowledge the duties that include being a lifeguard warrant an hourly pay charge above minimal wage.
“It’s loads of strain to be a lifeguard at Pancoe,” Livingstone stated. “You may make greater than $12 an hour flipping burgers at McDonald’s, and that’s not a job the place you’re accountable for saving somebody’s life.”
Earlier this month, Tracy Willette, Bangor’s parks and recreation director, stated he had about 15 lifeguards to work on the metropolis’s two swimming pools this summer season however wanted 25 to 30 to completely employees them. Different swimming pools in Maine are additionally struggling to recruit lifeguards.
On the metropolis’s Dakin Pool, three guards normally monitor the pool whereas one oversees the pool home.
Six guards monitor the Beth Pancoe Aquatic Heart’s pool with an extra lifeguard stationed on the prime of the waterslides and one other within the pool home.
Metropolis Council Chair Rick Fournier stated the town is by no means contemplating closing the Dakin Pool for good. It’s only delaying the pool’s opening till sufficient lifeguards are employed to soundly supervise swimmers, he stated.
Town selected to maintain the Dakin Pool closed as a result of it has much less capability and parking and decrease common attendance than the Pancoe pool, Metropolis Supervisor Debbie Laurie stated.
The Pancoe pool can accommodate 350 swimmers whereas Dakin has a capability of about 150 individuals.
Laurie stated the town can’t use the $20.5 million it obtained from the federal authorities for COVID aid to extend wages or add incentives for lifeguards, although it might be used for “job coaching.”
Bangor Parks and Recreation already reimburses lifeguards the price of the Bangor Area YMCA’s $315 certification course if somebody takes it, passes, then works at a municipal pool, Willette stated.
Willette stated the parks and recreation division has attended job festivals at Bangor and Brewer excessive colleges in addition to Husson College, however these efforts didn’t yield many lifeguards.
“What we’re discovering is there’s simply not the extent of curiosity in turning into a lifeguard that there as soon as was, even amongst swimmers,” he stated.
Along with recommending elevating wages as a short-term resolution, state Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, introduced that residents are re-establishing Buddies of Dakin Pool, a neighborhood fundraising group, to make long-term everlasting enhancements to the pool.
The group plans to lift cash to create scholarships for lifeguards to assist draw extra college students to the place and keep away from persistent lifeguard shortages.
The funds may also guarantee youngsters can enter the pool without cost. Baldacci stated the cash raised may also fund enhancements to the pool within the coming years, which might vary from enlarging it to including different leisure options.
Fifteen years in the past, the Buddies of Dakin Pool, which boasted lots of of members, raised about $150,000 over seven months to assemble a brand new pool home and supply for eight years of free admission for kids, stated group member Mike Robinson. The group held just a few spaghetti dinners to lift cash and obtained massive donations from L.L. Bean, Bangor Financial savings Financial institution and Stephen King.
“Fifteen years later, I didn’t anticipate to be on this scenario now the place it’s at risk of not persevering with after the trouble we made and the love the East Facet has for that pool,” Robinson stated.
Having each of the town’s swimming pools open is necessary as a result of it provides youngsters on each side of the town a spot to spend their summer season, Baldacci stated.
“The Pancoe Pool could be very good, however Bangor is a metropolis of over 30,000 individuals,” he stated. “The Dakin Pool is extra of a neighborhood pool which means so much to individuals on the east aspect.”