City is ready for summer

DAYTONA NILES/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Children play on the jungle gym on Thursday at Thompson Park in Watertown. The summer playground program opens Monday.

WATERTOWN — It’s that time again for making Boondoggle projects, playing kickball and creating sidewalk art with chalk.

The city Parks and Recreation Department’s summer playground and outdoor pool programs is about to get underway on Monday now that school has ended.

And the crowd-pleasing splash pad already has opened.

Parks and recreation officials hope that kids will flock to city playgrounds and facilities this summer.

In all, six staff playgrounds will be available to youngsters this summer, up from two last year. Two city pools also will open on Monday.

The Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and North Elementary School playgrounds will be back this summer. Four more have been added.

The program is expanding to Thompson Park, where the popular new splash pad is expected to attract a lot of children for the program.

“Thompson is back with the splash pad featured,” said Scott M. Weller, assistant superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We’re very excited.”

The others are at the North Hamilton, where some new playground equipment made its debut last month, on Portage Street and another at Academy Street.

At the urging of Councilman Cody J. Horbacz, council members agreed during the budget season to add North Hamilton, Portage and Academy streets.

The staffed playgrounds will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lunch, provided by the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, will be available at all six playgrounds.

As required by the state Department of Health, parents will have to register their children only at the fairgrounds, Thompson Park and North Elementary.

Again, the Parks Department is doing everything it can keep the pools open until Labor Day. It’s been difficult to do that in recent years because a shortage of lifeguards at the end of the swim season.

Last year, the fairgrounds stayed open until the last day.

This summer, 32 lifeguards were hired. They will be paid $13.45 an hour, head lifeguards will receive $14.85 an hour and supervising lifeguards, $16.70 an hour.

Many are high school and college athletes who vowed to stay to the end, parks and recreation superintendent Erin E. Gardner said.

“We want to remain open as long as we can,” she said, adding her department is trying to be as flexible about hours with the athletes when their teams begin practices later this summer.

On Thursday, the 81 lifeguards, playground staffers and other seasonal workers had an orientation for their jobs.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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