The City of Hobbs’ Parks & Recreation Department announced Wednesday night that Del Norte Pool opens Saturday, but it will only be open three days a week.
Starting Saturday, the city’s premier outdoor pool at 4314 N. Grimes St. with its water play structures and graduated, sloped entry will be open Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5:30 p.m. As a result, the city’s other two outdoor pools, Heizer and Humble pools, will only be open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m.
Hobbs Parks and Recreation Department director Doug McDaniel said the move is to accommodate the short lifeguard staffing while opening the three outdoor pools. If more lifeguards are hired, the city could expand the days of operation at all three pools.
“Our goal all along has been to operate as many of these seasonal pools as possible with the staffing that we had,” McDaniel said. “We looked at our staffing levels and found that we could operate Del Norte Pool kind of on a stand-alone basis. On different days, we were able to operate both Humble and Heizer pools.”
Previously, Del Norte was only going to be available for private pool parties this summer, while Heizer and Humble pools were scheduled to be open to the public six days a week.
“In our opinion, Del Norte is also a destination pool,” McDaniel said. “A large majority of the people that arrive at that facility drive and it made sense, because it was a destination, to have it open on weekends so that people both in our community and outside our community can attend.”
The cost to swim at all three outdoor pools is $2 for ages 18-61, and free for those under 18 and over 61. All three of the city’s seasonal outdoor pools will be closed on Mondays. Pool parties are available at all three outdoor pools on Saturday and Sunday evenings, McDaniel said.
“This will allow for the safe operation of all three seasonal pools,” states Wednesday’s news release from the Parks and Recreation Department. “Additionally, it provides for all pre-scheduled, private pool parties to take place as scheduled with no events being cancelled or re-scheduled. The pavilions inside Del Norte Pool will also be available to be rented on Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays.”
The city said in a news release last week that it only had enough lifeguards to operate Humble and Heizer pools this summer, and Del Norte Pool requires a larger staff than the smaller pools. The city also said because Del Norte has similar aquatic facilities as the nearby CORE, the city decided not to open Del Norte this summer.
Despite the city announcement last week that Del Norte Pool would only be open for pool parties this summer, McDaniel said city leaders planned to open Del Norte Pool at some point this summer. The pool has been open for public swimming every summer since it opened in 2001.
“It was our plan all along to open it as soon as we had staff to do so,” McDaniel said, adding Del Norte Pool opened a little late last year due to staffing issues. “That was kind of the plan this year, was to open Del Norte at some point in time, once we got the staffing. We were hesitant to put a date out there because you just don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of your staffing levels. It was always our plan to have as many of the pools open as we could operate in a safe manner.
“Ultimately, we would like to have enough staff to operate all three of the seasonal pools, but we will not do so until we have the appropriate number of lifeguards on staff.”
McDaniel said the city currently has about 16 lifeguards, while it needs 40 to operate all three outdoor pools six days a week.
“We hope to get some additional lifeguard candidates for both the CORE and seasonal pools,” McDaniel said.
For those who may be interested in a lifeguard position, the city continues to offer American Red Cross Lifeguard Training Classes at the CORE. The Red Cross also offers a shallow-water lifeguard certification for facilities that have water that is less than 5 feet deep as at both Heizer and Del Norte pools.
The pre-requisites for shallow-water lifeguards are less intensive. Applicants can apply online at.
McDaniel said the recent decision to open Del Norte Pool this summer was not a consequence of community complaints.
“As we re-examined the information at hand, we found that we can operate Del Norte,” he said. “It was our goal all along to open Del Norte as some point during the summer. As our staffing increases, we’ll look at expanding our hours of operation at all of the seasonal pools, but it will always only be done when it can be done safely.”
The news release states the Parks and Recreation Department said safety is paramount in the operation of its pools.
“The safety of swimmers at all City of Hobbs aquatics facilities continues to be our most important mission,” states the news release from the city’s Parks & Recreation Department issued shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday. “Additionally, the goal has been to operate, safely, as many of the seasonal pools as possible given the required number of lifeguards at each of the three seasonal pools, and the number of lifeguards on staff.
Jeff Tucker may be reached at ..