LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The city of Lufkin is hoping the Jones Park pool will be opened this summer; ending a two- and a half year closure of the summer oasis.
The Parks and Recreation Department will be hiring four lifeguards for the pool to work during the summer months.
"It's a big impact in Lufkin," Parks and Recreation Director Mike Ackridge said. "You have kids in that area of town that probably don't have a chance to go to the Boys and Girls Club to swim so it is a great thing."
Akridge said anyone interested in applying can stop by his office on first street but will need to first get certified.
"Really the first step is getting certified to be a lifeguard," Akridge said. "If they come to us and just fill out an application but don't have a certification then we cannot do anything."
When the pool was closed last summer, city council member Robert Shankle expressed concern.
"Every time I drive through here, the pool could have been open," City Councilmen Robert Shankle said. "That could have been 30-40 kids out here playing during the day; six or seven days a week."
The city was unable to get the required amount of lifeguards need to open in time for the beginning of the summer. This is the second straight year to have the pool closed. The year before that, the pool was closed early after the lifeguards had to go back to school.
"I don't know what the answer is," Parks and Recreation Director mike Akridge said. "We're not getting any bites. We have gone to the Boys and Girls Club to get names and numbers of people and we can't get any response."
Akridge pointed to a possible reason being that the process to become a certified lifeguard is not quick and is not cheap. Akridge also believes the pool only being opened in the summer is a disadvantage.
"We are not like Livewell or the Boys and Girls Club," Akridge said. "We are only here for the summer. The other places look a lot better for those wanting to get a lifeguard job."
The pool cover has been over the surface for the last two years and the pumps have been turned off, which leads to another issue with the pool.
"We don't know what kind of problems we would run into even if we tried to open the pool at this time," Akridge said.
Shankle visited the pool when he was a child and said it is an important part of the community.
"When summer time came, that was the place to go," Shankle said. "My mother would send me and my siblings there so we had something to do. Now, on opening day I would usually be in line to be one of the first to get in."
Shankle said there is a misconception on the area that he does not believe in.
"[In 2010] a lifeguard got beaten up over here," Shankle said. "I think that's the reason they shut it down and then the word got out that you don't want to work at Jones Pool. "I would have said that before because of the incident that happened the year prior but since then we have opened it twice and we haven't had any kind of incidents. As a council member, I would also come by here each day to make sure everything was good and no one had any problems. I just wish we could get the pool open."
Akridge said the city does have three splash pads located at Chambers, Kiwanis and Jones Parks. The city also promotes the Boys and Girls Club pool located on Reguet street.