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Morning Spew

Attempt to Extend NYC’s Pool Season Meets the Adams Austerity Grindset

The City is now swimming in tax money, but some things, like open pools, might never come back.

(Hell Gate)

Composting at farmer's markets will soon disappear, while the City's 3-K program remains on life support. Will libraries ever return on Sundays? Who knows! Swim lessons for children are now being offered on a "lottery" basis. A service flickers out during a "crisis," and then never comes back. 

Following the pandemic, a self-inflicted "lifeguard shortage" meant that the City shortened outdoor summer pool hours drastically—instead of being open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., they were now only open, and often with fewer pool lanes, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. 

Those early morning hours and late evenings were reserved for adult lap swim, where older New Yorkers could get some swimming in without the interference of children, who rule the pool the rest of the days. Despite some middling efforts, the City has been simply unable, partly due to union interference, to increase the amount of lifeguards to keep pools open, and has even closed stretches of beaches each summer. According to recent City Council testimony, this year will likely be no different. 

At the beginning of the year, Governor Kathy Hochul, as a sop to the New York Times editorial board, announced that she would prioritize swim safety in her budget this year, adding money for lifeguards and the construction of new pools (as well as throwing her support behind the Plus Pool vaporware, which, LOL).

With massive amounts of state money likely on the way, and the City now with its own budget windfall, City Council Parks Chair Shekar Krishnan has introduced a bill that would mandate outdoor pools be open at least twelve hours each day, and extend the pool and beach season from mid-May to mid-October. Right now, outdoor pools season is just over two months long, even as the city's warm months now extend from March through November. 

But the City's Parks chair, Sue Donoghue, in a hearing on Friday, painted a dark picture of the future of the City's pools and beaches, citing "substantial budgetary and operational challenges,” that would make what was mostly a reality just four years ago, into an impossibility. Extended pool hours, she said, was not going to happen. 

"The stark reality is that we still face a very challenging environment for hiring, which means that the expansion of the beach and pool season and operating hours proposed by the legislation is unlikely to be feasible any time in the foreseeable near future," Donohue said during a hearing about the legislation

This is how austerity works—even when the crisis subsides, you're left without something you had before. And then soon enough, you forget you ever had something at all. 

Some links to start your week, before they disappear forever:

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