In an effort to boost staffing levels and keep public pools open, New York City lifeguards are getting a raise under a new deal between their union and Mayor Eric Adams. Along with the pay hike comes plans to develop a training program to fully staff the City’s mini pools. Both measures come after a tumultuous start to the season that left swimmers on the Upper East Side feeling frustrated.
“Every New Yorker deserves to safely enjoy our city’s public pools and beaches this summer and my team has taken extraordinary measures to make that happen,” announced Mayor Adams.
In addition to the pay raise— to $19.46 per hour— the Mayor says the City “will pay a retention bonus in September to guards who work every week through the end of the summer season” in an effort to keep public pools and beaches staffed.
The move comes after the opening day fiasco last week at the Upper East Side’s only public pool, located at John Jay Park on East 77th Street between York Avenue and the FDR Drive.
Swimmers were furious after being ordered out of the nearly empty pool by NYC Parks officials to make way for a different group of swimmers under a so-called ‘sessions’ policy– despite the pool containing far fewer than the 75 person limit for a single lifeguard.
“I’m just so shocked this is the first day of the pool and like this is happening,” Crystal told us last week as she was leaving John Jay Park shortly after being kicked out.
“You have one lifeguard. It makes no sense,” the disappointed swimmer added.
Now, a message on NYC Parks’ website warns swimmers that “pool hours will be split into five separate sessions at crowded pools in order to provide pool access to more patrons.”
The debacle also prompted Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin to pen a letter to the mayor last week calling on him to raise lifeguard pay increase staffing.
As of June 25th, NYC Parks said it had hired fewer than half of the 1,400 to 1,500 certified lifeguards the agency hoped to staff the City’s beaches and pools this summer.
Mayor Adams warns this won’t be a quick fix for the problem at public pools and beaches— blaming the national lifeguard shortage as well as what he called ‘inefficient practices’ that need reform.
“We will continue to work closely to correct course on policies that don’t serve New Yorkers and pool resources from all agencies to ensure a fun and safe summer.”