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Milwaukee County pools and water parks will remain closed all summer

Most Milwaukee County pools will remain closed all summer, Milwaukee County Parks announced this morning. The department cited safety and logistical concerns in making the decision.

"With many Milwaukee County Parks venues currently closed as a result of the pandemic, physical distancing recommendations still place, and group sizes still limited, safe pool operations are compromised," it wrote in a press release.

“Every decision we’re making right now is focused on the safety of our park visitors and our staff,” Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said. “It’s essential that our services support public health. Unfortunately, the challenges of both COVID-19 and the county’s fiscal reality have brought us to this difficult decision.”  

The county will keep all of its deep-well pools and water parks closed, including the Cool Waters Aquatic Park in Greenfield Park, Schulz Aquatic Center in Lincoln Park, Pelican Cove in Kosciuszko Park, Noyes Indoor Pool, Pulaski Indoor Pool and theoutdoor pools at Washington Park, McCarty Park, Jackson Park, Sheridan Park, Holler Park, Hales Corners Park, Wilson Park and Grobschmidt Pool.

One notable exception: Hoyt Park Pool, which is operated by a separate non-profit called Friends of Hoyt Park, is planning to open this summer.

The department has also struggled to hiring adequate numbers of lifeguards to recent years. According to a press release, it requires more than 300 lifeguards to fully staff its facilities, and COVID-19 has made finding them even more difficult.

"COVID-19 has taken dramatic tolls on both Parks and county budgets," the press release reads. "Milwaukee County continues to provide front line services in response to the pandemic, but increased costs, coupled with $132 million in lost revenue, has led to drastic impacts on the county’s ability to provide needed services. "

Milwaukee County Parks is holding out hope, however, that many of its splash pads and wading pools may be able to open this summer. Those resources do not require trained lifeguards to operate.