The Tucson Parks Foundation and the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department will reopen six city pools this upcoming summer season.

City budget reductions forced 17 of Tucson’s 27 community swimming pools to close in 2009, says John Sefton, deputy director of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department.

The closures had a negative impact on the community, impeding on recreational activities, like swimming lessons for children, he says.

In an effort to bring back Tucson’s pools, the department and the foundation, along with the Tucson Mayor and Council, launched a campaign called “Bring Back the Splash.” The campaign asked the community for help, seeking out donations and funding through private and public partnerships.

“We are extremely excited,” Sefton says. “We’ve had a number of businesses and great folks in the community that have stepped up and recognized the importance of having these pools open and available for their community. We are just shy of $100,000 raised from the business and philanthropic communities.”

With the donations, the department will reopen six community pools this summer. Because of the timing involved in hiring and training lifeguards, the department will cap out at six pools this summer.

“Our goal was 11 (pools), but for our first year out the gate to get nearly $100,000 donated from the community is certainly a success,” Sefton says.

Each pool requires $40,000 to $60,000 for summer operation, he says. And a large portion of each pool’s expense is dedicated to employing lifeguards.

“The big-ticket item is the lifeguard,” Sefton says. “When you look at the number of hours and the number of lifeguards necessary for a pool operation, that’s the lion’s share of the budget, if you will.”

The department has to maintain the operational costs for chemicals, electricity and water year round.

Every donated dollar will directly go to hiring and employing summer lifeguards, Sefton says. He will hire a hundred additional lifeguards this year.

More pools open to the public means more opportunities for children to be around water. Though that may in turn create more opportunities for accidents, the pool closures have actually done more harm than good, says Yomaira Diaz, coordinator of community outreach at Tucson Medical Center.

Last month, TMC participated in the second City Water Walk with Arizona Drowning Prevention Coalition. Diaz went door to door to spread drowning awareness in Tucson, she says.

“These pools are closed, and when they’re closed they can’t provide any swim lessons,” Diaz says.

The drowning prevention lessons children learn in the classroom only go so far. The openings of these pools will allow children to apply their knowledge and, above all, learn how to swim, Diaz says.

Tucson Summer Splash and its six additional pools are set to open on June 4, and will run until July 27, according to the department.

The six pools to reopen are:

Jacobs Park: 1010 W. Lind St.

Purple Heart Park: 10050 E. Rita Rd.

Menlo Park: 1100 W. Fresno St.

Mansfield Park: 2000 N. 4th Ave.

Palo Verde Park: 300 S. Main Ave.

Himmel Park: 1000 N. Tucson Blvd.