In recent years, families who enjoyed Mecklenburg County’s only public swimming beach on Memorial Day weekend were bathed in a bucket of icy water on Tuesday.
Due to the lack of lifeguards, the county-run Ramsey Creek Park Beach on Lake Norman will remain closed “until further notice,” a county Parks and Recreation official said. They called the closing “temporary,” but did not say how long it meant.
Despite raising and hiring salaries throughout the year, the county fills only 86 of its 247 lifeguard jobs, according to the county news release.
Beach enthusiasts in the Charlotte area who want to stay local on holiday weekends must do what they always did before Ramsey Creek Beach opened in Cornelias in 2016: Troutman’s Norman Lake State Park. Nearly 40 trucks to Swimming Beach, miles from Uptown via Interstate 77.
State park officials are “98% confident” that there are enough guards to staff this weekend and summer, a woman calling at the park office tells the Charlotte Observer Told.
Trautman’s beach remained open during off-chance, she said, and not enough guards were hired. She said she only “swims at her own risk.”
Admission is $ 6 for adults and $ 4 for children if a guard is on duty.
The scene was much darker 20 miles south on a 43.7 acre beach Ramsey Creek Park On Tuesday, a locked gate banned access.
Over the last five years, Mecklenburg Park and Wreck have established free training and swimming programs to become lifeguards.
The county also raised the lifeguard minimum wage to $ 15 per hour, offered a $ 500 contract, and sent recruiters to CMS high schools and other schools in the surrounding counties, but said it was still of little use. Officials said.
Reaction to beach closure
County officials have blamed everything from more part-time job choices to “denying access to swimming training for potential applicants.”
These explanations failed to appease some of the officials elected in the Lake Norman area.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” state legislator John Bradford said on Tuesday about the closure.
“Mecklenberg is full of cash with federal funding from a pandemic,” Republicans Cornelius posted on Facebook in response to a WSOC-TV report on beach closures. “They far exceed the state’s mandatory reserves.
“If you’re short on lifeguards, pay more to recruit them,” Bradford posted. “Things have been closed for long enough.”
On Twitter, Stacy Phillips, the commissioner of the town of Huntersville, called the decision “not cool.”
“I’m going to say that the whole situation is a complete BS before Mecklenberg turns the combo and prevents LKN from opening this beach …” posted Phillips.
Phillips mentioned years ago complaints from noisy crowds, intruders, trash, and residents near the park in heavy traffic.
“This is the only public access to swimming at LKN,” Philips posted. “…. Recruitment in niche markets is not that difficult.”
The national shortage of lifeguards is a reality, BJ Fisher, Virginia-based spokesman American Lifeguard Association, Told the observer.
According to Fisher, tens of thousands of students from Eastern Europe help fill the US lifeguard shortage each summer through the J1 International Student Visa Program.
“I’m not coming this year because of a pandemic,” he said.
The students also helped fill the deficiency with 309,000 US public pools, he said.
Exacerbating the problem: “The entire group of US-born teenage lifeguards can no longer be recertified,” said Fisher, who is required every two years last year. “They probably just left,” he said.
“And we lost the group to join as a new candidate — we need 300,000 people a year to join as a new candidate — we don’t necessarily have to get a job, but we were trained. “He said.
“And we lost a year of swimming lessons to teach our children how to swim,” he said. “So this will be a chain reaction over the years to come.”
Fisher suggested training more “silver-haired swimmers” to become lifeguards. He said they could also be lifeguards if they were swimming in your local pool or YMCA.
No excuses, residents say
Some residents of the Lake Norman area on social media said they agreed with Philips’ assessment of the work of teens and lifeguards.
“It’s hard to imagine that kids between high school and college wouldn’t want the job,” Huntersville’s Kathy Funbro said on Twitter.
“The lifeguard position is great for HS / college kids,” agreed a woman whose Twitter name is Disgruntled Pelican.
Tonya Langhorne of Huntersville called the decision to close Ramsey Creek Beach “stupid and short-sighted.”
“Pay for lifeguards and see more spending on local businesses,” Langhorne posted on Facebook.
Limited pool operation
A lack of lifeguards will limit operations in the pools of Mecklenburg County, Parks and Recreation officials said.
Starting Saturday, the next time will be valid.
Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center, 2014 Statesville Ave., Charlotte: Saturday, May 29, opening day 11 am-7pm. And Sunday, May 30th. Monday, May 31st; and Tuesday, June 1st.
Starting Saturday, June 5, Double Oaks will be open Thursday and Saturday from 11am to 7pm.
Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. Open from 9am to 5pm on anniversaries. The main tank is closed from 1 pm to 4 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm. Friday from 5:30 am to 1:30 pm. Saturday from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. Closed on Sundays.
Cordelia pool, 2100 N. Davidson St., Charlotte: Starting Sunday, June 6th, the pool will be open from 11am to 7pm on Sundays and Tuesdays.
To maintain social distance, visitors will have access to the Double Oaks Pool and Cordelia Pool during the following times. 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 5:15 pm Swimming and 30 minutes of cleaning will take place during admission.
Admission is $ 2 per person. Tickets can be used on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of your visit.
Raise Splash Planet on North Sycamore Street It stays closed. “Be safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing you if you can. It will resume safely! ” The website says. Indoor Splash Park is a joint venture between Mecklenberg County Parks and Recreation and Charlotte Mecklenberg School at the Irwin Academic Center.