Alta looks for answers to pool staff shortage

Friday, July 30, 2021

The status of the Alta city pool continues to be a concern.

With a lack of lifeguards, the pool has had to shut down at times. While the pool was open for RAGBRAI Sunday, with limited staffing, the city chose not to advertise the fact.

The difficulties have been going on for a few years now. This summer, the city had planned to hire at least 10 guards. Only seven applied, and one of those ended up taking another job. When any of the guards are away or ill, it is difficult to safely operate the pool.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Mayor Kevin Walsh said after a special session city council meeting on the 22nd, in part to prepare for RAGBRAI. “I’ve heard that other towns with pools are having the same issue. You hear people saying that kids today don’t want to work, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. How much can we afford to pay kids? This is something we talk about throughout the year, we don’t just wait until April or May to start thinking about hiring people.”

The council in the past has talked about partnering with Aurelia to share staff, setting up local Red Cross classes to help train lifeguards, or seeking volunteers to help operate the city pool, but nothing has worked out.

“If there is a bright side, it is that the lifeguards we have this year are pretty young. We’re hoping they will come back for a couple of summers so maybe we won’t be facing as big an issue,” Walsh said.

In other city council business:

• The council entered an agreement with the Alta-Aurelia schools to jointly purchase a side-by-side ATV. The school’s machine was nearing the end of its lifespan, and cost for a replacement is about $11,000. Walsh noted that neither the city or the school have enough use to justify making such a buy on their own, so the partnership should make efficient use for the equipment.

• The council agreed to declare a no-parking zone on NE 1st Street, both sides of the road for the full length of the road running from the fairgrounds and community center area on west. The road is narrow, and parking on the sides has created some access and safety issues.

• Public hearings for a housing needs assessment and CDBG grant application related to sewer improvements were set for the next council meeting on August 8.