Clifton Park pool manager returns to work after resignation

The Barney Street Pool in Clifton Park in 2013. Credit:  Peter R. BarberThe Barney Street Pool in Clifton Park in 2013. Credit: Peter R. Barber

CLIFTON PARK — Brian Czerpak, the manager of Country Knolls pool in Clifton Park who resigned a few weeks ago after a controversy over unsanctioned private swim lessons at the pool, will return to his job, the town announced on Monday.

Czerpak resigned in mid-July, after the town began to investigate the practice of lifeguards giving private swim lessons, for which they were accepting cash payment from parents.

A few weeks ago, Barrett said he recently learned of the lessons, apparently offered at the Barney Road, Locust Lane and Country Knolls pools. The lessons had not been approved by the town.

Barrett said he contacted Czerpak, then-manager of the Country Knolls pool, to learn more. Czerpak, who was pool manager for 26 years, never responded, Barrett said, and shortly afterward handed in his resignation. Barrett said he reached out to Czerpak to set up a meeting shortly after he resigned.

Czerpak’s resignation prompted an outcry from both lifeguards and residents who use the pools.

Lifeguards also claimed that the town has been aware of the lessons for many years. The lessons, guards said, usually ran $20 for a half-hour, and were never conducted when the guards were on duty and being paid by the town.

Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett credited Czerpak’s lengthy tenure at the pools with making sure the facilities were maintained.

“Brian has been a long-standing, valued, and dedicated employee of the Country Knolls pool. In fact, he has been the pool manager for that facility during my entire time in office,” Barrett said, in a prepared statement. “I am pleased that Brian is returning to his duties and look forward to collaborating with him, and other staff members, as we continue to build on the wonderful programs that have made the town pools so popular with the Clifton Park community.”

The town offers its own swim lesson program.

In his resignation letter, Czerpak said the decision to resign was due to a disconnect between town leaders’ expectations and his role as pool manager.

“There is a complete disconnect between our management styles and how we approach our roles,” Czerpak said in the letter to town information specialist and pool liaison Matt Andrus, and Duane Nichols, town pool director.

Czerpak could not be reached for comment Monday.

Barrett discussed Czerpak’s reinstatement during Monday night’s Town Board meeting, and said he will be working closely with Czerpak on the pools in the future.

Residents who packed the room wanted to know how things would change.

Brian Geary, a pool employee who spoke at the meeting during public comment, commended Czerpak’s leadership and said that there continues to be issues with getting supplies to the pools, such as pens and chlorine. He asked that those issues be taken care of immediately. Barrett said he and Czerpak would be working together to make sure the supplies get to the pools.

Geary said that many people in the room were expecting an apology from the town over the situation.

Stephanie Morgan, a lifeguard at the Country Knolls pool, demanded to know whether there would be a public apology for Czerpak. She said she felt personally targeted and harassed by the way that the town handled the issue.

“Brian is like a father figure to me. Is there going to be a public apology?” she asked.

Barrett did apologize for any mistakes that might have been made during the pool season.

Barrett also said that there was an understanding among all parties. “He and I are on the same page going forward,” Barrett said.