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City Council to Parks and Rec: let under 16’s enjoy the pool too

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A city recreation policy banning children under 16 at the municipal pool without parental supervision is coming under attack by members of the City Council, who want to encourage teenagers to use the pool instead of going to other, more dangerous places to swim.

The ban was put into place this summer without the council’s consent, Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley said.

“We never authorized that,” Mr. Morley said. “I think we need to solve that before the summer is over.”

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said the Recreation Committee decided to change the policy “to make sure we were covered liability-wise.”

But the new rule drew the ire of City Council members, who found out about the rule change recently. They directed Mr. Pinkerton during their meeting Thursday morning to rewrite the rule to allow unaccompanied youths to use the pool at 100 Washington St.

Referring to Mr. Morley’s objection to the change, Councilor Jennifer Stevenson said, “I’m not happy about it, either.” Ms. Stevenson and Mr. Morley said children 12 and over should be allowed at the pool without a parent or guardian.

If the lifeguards “can’t take care of them, they can call the police,” Councilor Wayne L. Ashley said.

The new regulation has created a safety problem in the city, Mr. Morley said.

“We’re taking them away from the pool with no place else to go,” he said. “We’re shifting them to jumping off the bridges or jumping off the docks or swimming in the boat launches. We’ve got to get them where it’s safe, and the safe place is the swimming pool.”

Mr. Ashley said, “The pool is for the kids, and there are many kids who are 13, 14 and 15 who are just as responsible as many 16- and 17-year-olds.”

“It needs to be changed now before the summer is over,” Mr. Ashley said. “Why punish good kids for the actions of a few?”

Mr. Pinkerton said he will meet with the Parks and Recreation Department to come up with a solution.

“We’ll look at what other communities are doing,” he said, adding that he hopes to have a new policy in effect before the Aug. 12 council meeting.

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