A Joint Service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Peoria Park District set to open outdoor pools, as the indoor AquaPlex closes for maintenance

220601 Riverplex.jpg
Tim Shelley
The RiverPlex in Peoria.

Outdoor swimming facilities operated by the Peoria Park District will reopen for the summer next week, while the indoor pool at the RiverPlex closes for repair work – and to accommodate lifeguard staffing.

210528 Gwynn Aquatic Center 1.jpg
Joe Deacon
Peoria Park District executive director Emily Cahill said unless they can get 12-14 more lifeguards before the targeted June 7 opening, the Gwynn Family Aquatic Center will remain closed.

Park district executive director Emily Cahill said in order to open the Gwynn Family Aquatic Center and Proctor Recreation Center pools on June 6, some “shuffling” was necessary.

“It worked this summer that because of our partnership between the RiverPlex and the Greater Peoria YMCA, that in the summertime we will be closing the natatorium – the AquaPlex at the RiverPlex – shifting all those guards to our outdoor locations (and) supporting the YMCA, so people will still have a swim option,” said Cahill.

“We still have a lifeguard crisis. We are not the only ones,” said Cahill. “Actually, the National Recreation and Parks Association shared a statistic with us last week that only 12% of public pools across the country are fully staffed this summer.”

Cahill said the NRPA report showed more than 60% of kids don’t know how to swim, posing a challenge to recruiting more lifeguards.

“We're having a lot of conversations with our staff about ways that we can get more kids excited and interested in swim lessons so that we can grow those lifeguards. But it is not a quick fix. It's something that over time, we all have to figure out,” she said.

220601 Riverplex pool.jpg
The RiverPlex
The Peoria Park District is closing the indoor AquaPlex at the RiverPlex this summer to perform maintenance and repairs.

Cahill says the 20-year-old indoor swimming facility at the RiverPlex was due for some repairs, making the lifeguard reassignments possible.

“Think about any place where you are where there's water and humidity and metal. What happens? Rust,” said Cahill. “We've got to repaint that entire ceiling to maintain the integrity of the facility. We also know that it is time for us to do a resurfacing of the pool basins, and all of that stuff can't happen with water in the pool.

“We have just made that decision to try to do all the maintenance work that we can – instead of in a short two-week period where we have to close it a couple times, we're just taking that big chunk. And to have the outdoor option at the YMCA for our members and for the community, it made sense for us to collaborate to limit the impact that it had on our community during that time.”

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with NPR donors across the country – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.