ADA pool lift regulations prove difficult for Ephrata’s curved pool design

| March 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Ephrata (Pennsylvania) city officials are trying to figure out the best way to meet changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerning accessibility requirements in pools. According to the revised regulations, pools at public accommodations, hotels, inns, etc need to have a chair lift or a ramp. However, the Ephrata city pool’s design makes these installations difficult.

Ephrata city pool

The Ephrata city pool’s curved edges make installing guard rails to meet accessibility standards a difficult task (image by Columbia Basin Herald).

iFiber One News reports that Ephrata Parks and Recreation Director Ray Towry “explained the design of the pool doesn’t allow the city to place the rails on either edge of the ramp because on one side water from play equipment would be hitting it and the other side has a curved edge.”

According to Director Towry, “They’re not sure if they’re going to consider us two bodies of water because with the lily pads in there people can’t cross from one side to the other. The other issue is that it has to come out to a 5-foot by 5-foot surface, which for us to do it correctly, you’re creating a hole (that’s) 5-feet by 5-feet in the bottom of the pool and pouring a flat block. Now you have a flat block with a steep ledge which creates a trip hazard.”

Whatever the city does, the change has to be permanent. According to Director Towry and the city’s administrator, Wes Crago, the alterations raise concerns about safety because people might play on the rails or lift, or trip on them.

“What they’re trying to do is good, but they’re not understanding the affects,” he said. “For us, with the design of our pool, to try and meet these standards can actually create more of a hazard.”

The Columbia Basin Herald reports, “According to Towry, there are 21 lawsuits against various hotels in regard to the new ADA regulations. Towry said, in many cases someone from the Department of Justice will simply call the front desk and ask if there is a lift. If the response is no, then the hotel is served with a lawsuit.”

Although the deadline for establishments to comply with the ADA pool lift regulations was by  the end of January 2013, industries awaited a more clear interpretation from the Department of Justice. The Department has specified that eventually pools will have to comply with the revised federal law. It seems that public accommodations can only buy a finite amount of time before they have to concede and install $3,000-$8,000 pool lifts or ramps.

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Category: Safety

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