Good morning, Boulder. 🌄 Welcome to your Wednesday edition of BRL Today.

We’ve got a one-two punch for you this morning, with a pair of stories on the status of popular city recreational facilities. 👯 First up, I take a look at the ongoing lifeguard shortage at city pools, which currently leaves Boulder’s aquatic centers about 100 workers short of being fully operational by summertime. Then John Herrick reports on plans to reopen East Age Well Center next fall, amid uncertainty surrounding which social and fitness programs for older residents will return immediately.

See you on Friday, folks! 👋

– Jezy, managing editor

“Join our superhero team” is the message at the upcoming Parks and Recreation job fair on Wednesday, April 13, at the North Boulder Recreation Center. The department is seeking to fill more than 300 summer positions, including nearly 100 lifeguards needed to keep city pool facilities fully operational when the weather warms up. Courtesy of City of Boulder

Quickly

🚩Red Flag Warning: Strong northwestern winds, low humidity and dry fuels will make for potentially dangerous fire conditions again today. Wind gusts could reach 65 mph, with 10–20% minimum humidity across most of the plains. Red Flag Warning is in effect through Thursday.

📚 Library district gets council go-ahead: After a public hearing stretching into the early hours of the morning, the Boulder City Council approved a resolution to form a library district by a 6-3 vote. The proposed district aims to boost funding for the city’s libraries and expand library services across the county. Voters inside a to-be-decided district boundary will be asked in November to approve a property tax increase to pay for the new library district, which is a government entity made up of a board of trustees. The Board of County Commissioners will weigh in Thursday whether to approve a similar resolution. Councilmembers Bob Yates, Mark Wallach and Tara Winer voted against the district.

🔥 NCAR Fire updates: Smoke may still be noticeable by sight and smell as Boulder OSMP and Fire-Rescue continue to monitor and work on the burn area after the March 26 wildfire. “For your safety: Do not approach machinery or sawyers while they’re cutting. Do not allow dogs into the burn area.”

🧑‍🚒 Small wildfire in the Carriage Hills neighborhood: Per Boulder County Sheriff’s Office: “Early [yesterday] morning we responded to a small wildfire, estimated at 0.5 acres, in the Carriage Hills neighborhood. Firefighters did great work and have it contained and are mopping up. No injuries. No structure loss.” It’s the second small wildfire, including one in Estes Park last week, since the NCAR Fire on March 26.

🌎 City responds to latest IPCC report: “Consistent with the science and guidance from the IPCC, Boulder seeks to join the global community in reaching net zero carbon by 2035. This means that our community, working to achieve necessary changes at national and global scales, will reduce nearly all its carbon emissions over the next 13 years. For the small amount of emissions that remain, Boulder will achieve an equal amount of carbon removal by planting trees and improving soil health.”

🚲 Bike thief suspect in custody: An alleged offender is being held in connection with a robbery at a CeramicSpeed office in Boulder, in which three bikes valued at over $80,000 — including two “irreplaceable” one-off prototypes — were stolen last Wednesday. One bike, a Specialized Turbo Levo, was recovered, and Boulder Police “may already have a lead on the two prototypes.”

Correction: We fell for an April Fool’s joke from the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, which we shared with readers in the April 1 edition of our newsletter. The City of Boulder is not participating in a massive soil exchange program with Bellingham, Washington, for the purposes of trail maintenance.

Top Stories

Boulder pool facilities need nearly 100 lifeguards for summer operations

Empty pools could be a familiar sight this summer at some city-run facilities, if the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department is unable to staff nearly 100 open lifeguard positions for its aquatics program.

“It’s a big need right now,” said Megann Lohman, the department’s senior manager of recreation and facilities. “We typically throughout the entire year have at least 100 lifeguards on staff — and the need in the summer always goes up. … We need probably 160 lifeguards to be fully operational. Right now, we have 65.” 

Lohman says the newly renovated Scott Carpenter Pool facilities alone — including a new leisure pool, lazy river and kids’ amenities —  require approximately 12 lifeguards to operate per shift. The increased need, coupled with an ongoing national lifeguard shortage, could mean continued reduced services and seasonal closures of some city-run pools if staffing levels aren’t met by May 1.

“Staffing for lifeguards has been a challenge even before the pandemic, but it was never this much of a challenge,” Lohman said.

City of Boulder plans to reopen East Age Well Center as soon as this fall, but it remains unclear what services will be restored

As soon as this fall, the City of Boulder will reopen the East Age Well Center, a city-run facility that provided social and fitness programs for older adults until it was closed as a pandemic precaution in March of 2020. 

Eden Bailey, the manager for Boulder’s older adult services, which oversees the social and educational programs at the center, said she is working on a special budget request to the Boulder City Council later this year to pay for staff at the center. 

“I can’t give you a specific date. But I can say that we’re committed to reopening this fall for sure,” Bailey said. “It’s a much-loved center and we’re looking forward to being able to get it reopened.” 

The center, located at 5660 Sioux Dr. in South Boulder, hosted drop-in dance, table tennis and other fitness programs, including activities run by SilverSneakers, a company that prepares workouts for older adults. It also offered social and educational programs, such as scrabble, bridge and poker. 

The city’s Parks and Recreation and Health and Human Services departments oversee the programs at the facility. Both departments underwent budget cuts during the pandemic and are yet to fully staff up to pre-pandemic levels.

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BRL Picks

👩‍🎨 Library card art contest. Want to lend a creative hand to the public library? Applications are still open for Boulder Library’s annual library card art contest. Two winners will have their designs featured on cards beginning in June of 2022. The deadline to submit has been extended to Friday, April 8.

🚲 School travel study. Per CU Denver: “Participate in the Boulder County School Travel Study if your family/household has students ages 9-18 who attend public schools in either of Boulder County’s two school districts. Students & their parents or caregivers, are invited to participate in one 3-hour, virtual or in-person, small-group community interview session about youth travel to school & other key destinations.”

🇺🇦 Ukrainian perspectives from Colorado. Tune in for a Zoom panel discussion focusing on the ongoing war in Ukraine from the perspectives of Ukrainians in Colorado. The program, which is free and open to the public, kicks off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. Register here.

💃 Move it. CU Boulder dance faculty and current Roser Visiting Artist present three nights and an afternoon of breathtaking contemporary dance during The Current, April 7–10 at the intimate Charlotte York Irey Theatre. Tickets here.

Covid-19 Updates: April 6, 2022

  • 68 daily new cases (7-day avg.) Down 13% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 0 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 49% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 New building code option for Marshall Fire survivors in Louisville. “The Louisville City Council has approved an ordinance allowing Marshall Fire survivors to opt in or out of 2021 building codes. The ordinance passed in a 4-2 vote Tuesday night.” [9News]

📖 Blackstone buys Boulder building complex. “Blackstone’s BioMed Realty Trust Inc., a real-estate owner that focuses on life science and tech buildings, is paying more than $600 million for Flatiron Park, a 22-building complex. BioMed Realty plans to invest another $200 million in the property.” [Wall Street Journal]

📖  Gov. Jared Polis signs abortion rights bill. “The Democratic governor signed HB22-1279, affirming that Coloradans who want reproductive care, including abortions, will be able to get that care in the state, regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said the right to choose to have an abortion was protected by the Constitution.” [Denver Post]

ICYMI from BRL

📚 Here’s what you need to know about Boulder’s proposed library district. From how much it would cost to who would run it, Boulder Reporting Lab breaks down the details on the plan designed to boost funding for the city’s libraries.

🚧 ‘The work never stops’: Boulder’s top traffic engineer on the city’s shift in safety priorities from local streets to arterial roadways. The 2022 Safe Streets Report found 65% of severe crashes happen on high-traffic thoroughfares. Boulder Reporting Lab spoke with Devin Joslin, principal traffic engineer for the City of Boulder, about what the new change in focus means for residents.

💰 Boulder Reporting Lab receives Chronicle of Philanthropy reporting fellowship to examine local climate disaster relief and recovery through Marshall Fire fund. The Philanthropy & Nonprofit Accountability Fellowship will allow BRL to dedicate resources towards illuminating the unique role local philanthropy is playing in the aftermath of the most destructive fire in Colorado history, as climate-driven disasters increase nationwide.

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

Jezy Gray was the former managing editor of Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, he was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more.