'We deserve to swim': Group urges Philadelphia to open shuttered pools as summer heat nears

Calls to reopen shuttered Philadelphia community pools grew on Tuesday, with protesters using inflatable pools to help make their point. 

Community members say the pool at the Sayer Morris Rec Center in West Philadelphia started to close regularly in seven years ago and finally drained in 2017. 

The Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation claimed lifeguard shortages and maintenance issues caused the pool - and others like it - to close. Community leaders say the city's reasons are legitimate, but they're not doing enough to rectify the issues.

Kirstin Britt, the president of Sayre Advisory Council, organized a protest outside Morris Rec Center on Tuesday. The protest culled supporters with a D.J. and free food, and punctuated its message with dozens of empty inflatable swimming pools that represented shutter Philadelphia community pools. 

"We have about 30 pools out here, empty, and they're empty for a reason, because when we walk through our communities that's what we see," Britt said. "We wanted to send a message to the city that we want our pool open, that we deserve to swim."

With the baking summer heat still ahead, local residents say having a community pool would help kids have a fun safe haven and a place to learn. 

"When I was little I used to be able to go my park around the corner and go swimming every single day, so I feel like my baby should be able to experience the same thing."

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation expects about 80% of city pools to open this summer.