A swimmer jumps into Lake Meridian in Kent last summer. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

A swimmer jumps into Lake Meridian in Kent last summer. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

City of Kent cancels lifeguard program at Lake Meridian

Not enough applicants to fill 16 to 20 part-time positions this summer

The city of Kent has canceled its lifeguard program this summer at Lake Meridian Park due to a lack of applicants.

“We were not able to recruit the 16 to 20 lifeguards we need to staff the program,” Mayor Dana Ralph told the City Council at its June 1 virtual meeting.

Ralph told the council May 18 about the lack of applicants as just three people had applied. The city tried a social meeting blitz on its Facebook and Twitter accounts and several local TV news stations reported about the shortage of applicants after a Kent Reporter website story about the issue.

“We’ve had difficulty in recruiting lifeguards, as are most other jurisdictions around our area and there’s a variety of reasons for that,” Ralph said.

Ralph said last month that part-time positions are hard to fill when unemployment pays far more than a part-time job. She said restaurants, service organizations and other cities face a similar problem.

People on unemployment receive pay from the state as well as a $300 weekly payment from the federal government. That federal payment lasts until Sept. 6 as part of the pandemic relief package.

The city lifeguard positions would have paid about $16 per hour, which is less than what many people can collect if they are on unemployment.

“It’s not for a lack of trying and it’s not just a city of Kent issue,” Ralph said about the attempt to fill the jobs.

City parks staff will post extra signage to alert people about no lifeguards being on duty, Ralph said. The park is at 14800 SE 272nd St.

Ralph said funding will remain in the city budget in an effort to return the lifeguard program in 2022.

“We will be out of the pandemic and hopefully not have the same problem,” Ralph said.

The city of Kent took away lifeguards last summer at the Lake Meridian beach because of budget cutbacks due to COVID-19, although that didn’t stop people from diving off the dock and swimming in the marked-off area during hot summer days.

City leaders decided during budget negotiations late last year to restore the lifeguard program for this summer with the expectation that people would fill the part-time jobs.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Fire burns a Volkswagen Beetle on Wednesday, June 23 in the 11000 block of SE 220th St., in Kent. Firefighters extinguished the fire before it spread to any other vehicles. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire
Fire burns VW Beetle in Kent parking lot

Puget Sound Fire extinguishes fire

Firefighters contained a fire June 23 at the Kent QFC store to a roof area near the back of the building. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire
Firefighters quickly extinguish fire at Kent QFC store

Twenty units respond to early Wednesday morning, June 23 fire

Courtesy Photo, Regional Animal Services of King County
Kent City Council drops proposal to ban roosters

Decides no rule changes needed to reduce noise complaints

Kent’s Scenic Hill Elementary School celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District
Nine Kent schools hit anniversary milestones this year

Scenic Hill Elementary celebrates 60th year

t
High school graduates celebrate at Kent campuses

Class of 2021 gathers at schools across town

Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone (left) and King County Executive Dow Constantine (right) discuss in front of the newly purchased shelter (Photo by Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
County purchases Renton hotel to serve as homeless shelter

Deal is part of Health Through Housing initiative; controversial Red Lion shelter to be “phased out.”

t
City of Kent moves $4.5 million to liability insurance fund

Civil rights case settlement on police shooting contributes to costs

Courtesy of weather.com
Tips for staying safe during Washington’s heat wave

The Puget Sound region could see record breaking temperatures this week as… Continue reading

Most Read