Members of the community-led effort to improve conditions at the Palm Springs Swim Center (PSSC) are growing frustrated with what they see as a need for action from the city. This week, they turned to the Parks and Recreation Commission for help.
For months, patrons of the swim center have expressed concerns about frequent unexpected closures, staffing issues, and maintenance. Staff at the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has repeatedly assured residents they understand the closures constitute a significant disruption, but they’re working on hiring more lifeguards.
On Monday, the issues appeared to reach a boiling point when members of a small coalition of pool users – calling themselves PSSC Watchdogs – came prepared to deliver a 14-page presentation to the Commission during its regular meeting. Instead, they were limited to three minutes each for public comments with a promise that commissioners would review the document.
Jeff Nelson and Richard Midnault, both members of the watchdog group, tried their best to summarize the concerns, speaking out about the pool’s “deplorable condition” that has led the entire facility into a “downward spiral.” They also criticized the lack of staff at the Parks and Recreation Department as another reason for problems at the pool.
After Monday’s meeting, the watchdog group filed a report with the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, raising concerns about what they see as “unsanitary and unsafe conditions” at the pool’s bathrooms.
Still, in the document filed with the city, the watchdog group came prepared with solutions and an offer to assist.
Among fixes they proposed was the creation of an ad-hoc committee to assist both city staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission, an increased push for full staffing at the pool, the development of an operations manual, and improvements in communication between the city and pool users.
“Immediate and sustained action is needed to turn this situation around and restore the Swim Center to what it can be and should be,” they wrote in the document presented to the city. “We would like to be part of the solution.”
Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission acknowledged problems at the pool. They were receptive to the idea of a sub-committee, agreeing to consider a vote on its formation at their April meeting.
“These stakeholders would benefit from a little more knowledge behind them rather than just hearing what they’re hearing at the pool,” said Commissioner Jerry Alcorn.
“We’ve got so many normal people that are mad at us for not getting stuff done fast enough,” Alcorn said. “We just need the resources to get it done. We need staffing.”
Hiring more staff may prove the most difficult of the solutions to problems at the pool. The city has been advertising for additional lifeguards but faces local competition.
For example: Despite a sense from watchdog group members that Palm Desert has been able to overcome a lack of lifeguards, Parks and Recreation Director Yvonne Wise said that wasn’t the case. That city has also had to reduce its pool’s operational hours, as have beach communities throughout the state.