The director of the D.C. Department of Recreation, yesterday denied reports of personnel, safety and supply foul-ups at the city swimming polls even while his pool managers met with other supervisors to detail their many problems in the department's aquatic operations.
Dr. William H. Rumsey, who did not attend a specially scheduled meeting with some 24 pool managers or assistant told reporters at a District Building news conference that allegations of staff and supply shortages, safety and maintnenance problems and near chaotic operating conditions were un true.
"It's the pool manager's job to request supplies be need," said Rumsey, "and every day we have a person who calls all the pools to make sure they have everybody on deck that they are supposed to have. And we ask them if they need anything."
Rumsey's news conference was held following published complaints from pool employees that swimming pool operations have deteriorated to an all time low this summer. Some of these workers have outlined their problems to aides for D.C. City Council Chairman Sterling Ttucker, who has been given a report on the situation.
While Rumsey was defending the department's performance however, the pool managers were repeating their grievances at special meeting with deputy director Jesse Johnson and aquaties director James Tompkins.
"Tompkins acknowledged the problems and he asked the pool managers to write all the difficulties they are having and hand in the reports before leaving," said one pool manager who attended the meeting.
Informed that Rumsey had said the pools are called each day to check up on their needs the manager replied, "no one ever calls my pool unless they want me to go to a meeting with the director."
Following the meeting, Tompkins joined Rumsey at the District Building and reported that he had gone back over with his staff "what to do in emergencies, how to get supplies and how to reach me."
One problem frequently cited by pool personnel was the untimely midsummer move of the aquatics division to new offices - where there is only one telephone shared by two divisions. This, they said, has made communications virtually impossible particularly since the department took away an electronic beeper previously used by Tompkins to stay in touch with his staff.
Tompkins and Rumsey pronounced the pools healthy and safe but several pool managers have complained that personnel shortages and difficulties in getting repair work done have had a detrimental affect on pool scheduling, health, safety and varied swimming programs.
Rumsey said maintenance work is being done as soon as possible, pools are open with full programs according to posted schedules and all aquatics positions have been filled. He noted the city's 43 points receive more than 1.2 million visits by people a year and have an outstanding safety record compared to the rest of the country.
In an interview prior to Rumsey's statement, however a pool manager at Benning Park in Southeast said his pool did not get its full staff "until three weeks ago, and you can quote me on that because it's the truth."
Rumsey's office did not return a reporter's call to explain the discrepancy between his news conference statements and continued complaint's by pool employers.