WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- The last public pool in Wilkes-Barre will be closed this summer.
According to officials, the pool at Kistler Elementary School is being underutilized, but some residents disagree.
Last year, the city of Wilkes-Barre had a very tough time hiring enough lifeguards for the Kistler pool. This year, in part due to the city’s financial situation, they’re not hiring at all, leaving some to wonder where their kids will go to cool off this summer.
“This was not a very easy decision for the city to make,” says Ted Wampole, city administrator.
Some folk aren’t sure how to tell their kids they won’t be heading to that pool this year. John Birkenhead used the fields at Kistler Elementary School to teach his grandkids how to hit a fastball. But he hasn’t told them yet the pool they frequent in the summer won’t be open this year.
“Our taxes go up and services go down,” says Birkenhead. “That makes it very discouraging.”
A few of Birkenhead’s family members have worked as pool attendants in the past at Kistler. He’s upset that opportunity won’t be given to local kids this year.
Staff members won’t be manning Miner Park behind the school either. Many are disappointed that parts of the park will be left unattended, but some say this change actually halps the area.
The pool and park had their share of problems last year- from vandalism, to thefts, to break-ins. Wampole says neighbors were constantly calling the police.
“We actually had to have a police care in the area and in the parking lot when the pool closed towards the end of the season,” says Wampole.
Officials estimate the cutbacks will save the city more than $40,000. Wampole says the pool was never as crowded as it could have been in 2016.
“We looked at it as an area that, why would we want to put that money out there when no one was using it?” Says Wampole.
But the decision isn’t going swimmingly for everyone.
“Saving money is one thing,” says Birkenhead. “Taking away services from people is another.”
Even though parks won’t have attendants, officials want to stress the city parks will remain open this summer. The public will have a chance to voice their opinion on the pool’s closure at this Thursday’s city council meeting.
The Coal Street Splash Pad will be open this summer as an alternative to the Kistler Pool.