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It's unlikely Buffalo will open outdoor swimming pools later this summer

Because of the lifeguard shortage, city pools in Niagara Falls won’t open this summer, and two out of three town pools in Cheektowaga will remain closed.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There’s a lot of disappointment out there that outdoor swimming pools in the City of Buffalo will be closed this summer because of a lack of lifeguards.

On Friday, we asked city officials if there is anyway outdoor pools could be reopened at some point this summer?

Usually in the City of Buffalo, public pools would be open right before Fourth of July weekend, giving people a much welcomed cool off.

But because there aren’t enough lifeguards, the city’s seven outdoor pools and two wading pools will be closed. The splash pads and indoor pools will remain open.

"We were able to get enough lifeguards to staff the two indoor pools. The logistics of having the outdoor pools open on a part-time basis posed a potential safety concern," said Michael Finn, commissioner of the city's Department of Public Works.

COVID has had a big impact.

"During the pandemic, a lot of lifeguards let their certification slip because there were no pools open last year at all. There’s nothing to do, so they weren’t going to pay the money to keep those up," Finn said.

On Friday, 2 On Your Side spoke to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Did he think it’s possible that maybe some of them might reopen later in the summer? 

"No, I doubt that we will be reopening additional pools later in the summer. Generally, we have a short summer season, and to be able to ramp up based on the unavailability right now of lifeguards, it would be hard to predict that," Brown said.

City officials urge people not to take the risk and swim in dangerous waters.

"We have posted all of those dangerous bodies of water. We will continue to remind our young people and members of the community not to swim in unprotected bodies of water," Brown said.

The focus now is on trying to recruit more lifeguards for next summer.

"It’s an ongoing recruitment process for lifeguards. The typical process that we do in the fall, working with Buffalo Schools, charter schools, looking at people who are interested in being trained," Finn said. 

Because of the lifeguard shortage, city pools in Niagara Falls won’t open this summer, and two out of three town pools in Cheektowaga will remain closed.