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Citizen petition calls for Cortez Recreation Center to expand hours

The Cortez Recreation Center is trying to hire more staff and lifeguards to expand hours for the facility and the indoor swimming pool. (Journal file)
Staff needed to stay open longer, officials say

Nearly 300 people have signed a petition requesting that the Cortez Recreation Center resume its pre-pandemic hours of operation, including for the indoor pool.

City officials said that is the goal, but a staff shortage has prevented it.

Weightlifter Ryan Warren presented the petition to the Cortez City Council June 14. It asks for the closure time of 9 p.m. and for longer pool hours.

The facility closes at 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the pool is closed in the afternoon and evening.

“For those of us who work (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or later, it is not a fair window of opportunity to use the place we are all paying taxes for,” Warren said.

He pays for a membership and wants to use the facility daily but is limited by the shortened hours, especially if he has to work late.

Ryan Warren spoke to the Cortez City Council about a petition he circulated to expand hours at the Cortez Recreation Center. (Screen shot)

Tourists in Cortez typically are informed of two things, he said – visit Mesa Verde National Park and check out the Cortez Rec Center. They are disappointed when the pool is closed.

Cortez Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright said last week the goal is to keep the recreation center open longer and provide more swim times.

However, the center lacks the staff and lifeguards for expanded service. The center seeks applicants to fill eight vacant part-time positions, and needs 10 lifeguards.

“We have the budget to expand hours, and that is certainly my goal. We are having a tough time hiring people,” he said.

He is developing a recruitment and retention program to try and attract applicants. Perks to entice people could include sign-on and end-of-season bonuses.

A more defined staff organization plan also is being developed to better identify job duties and promotion, Wright said. The new plan will give staff a path forward to move up the ladder to higher pay.

“With skills, experience and education, people can move up to another class. Right now, it is a matter of finding people to hire,” Wright said.

He said a shortage of lifeguards has prevented longer pool hours.

The city is applying for grant money from the Department of Local Affairs to help recruit and pay additional lifeguards, said Cortez Mayor Rachel Medina.

For information on available job positions, visit the Cortez Recreation Center’s Facebook page or call 970-564-4081.