All public pools becoming handicap accessible

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It’s going to cost cities thousands of dollars to follow new guidelines meant to make it easier for everyone to enjoy public swimming pools.

All swimming pools, including those at hotels, motels, clubs, and community pools, will need portable lift or a ramp for those who are handicapped. The guidelines are part of new standards with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

No work has to be done for this swim season, but every public swimming pool must have an improvement plan in place by the middle of May.

“I think it would help a lot of people,” explains Marie van Kleef, 85, who is handicapped. She’s been to resorts that have pools but sometimes hasn’t been able to get into them.

Winston-Salem has 17 city pools. Every one of them will need some change made to them in order to meet the new guidelines.

“We do have plans in place for ramps, handrails, and a few other things in some pools. We are actually having to remove and convert those into smaller splash pads,” said William Royston with Winston-Salem’s Parks and Recreation department.

“What I personally find interesting is we had a portable lift at some of our major pools, and to my knowledge I don’t know if they’ve ever been used. We’ve had them for years,” said Alan Hine with Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation. “Of course, those lifts don’t meet the new ADA rules.”

Hine said each ramp they build is going to cost about $10,000.

“Right now we are using CIP funds, which are capital improvement funds. We have some money there, and we hope to get some more to be able to do it all.”

Hine understands the reason behind the rule.

“It makes sense. We want to provide facilities for everyone,” Hine said.

Van Kleef feels it comes down to being fair.

“There’s a lot of handicap people that can’t get into a pool and would like to,”  Van Kleef said.

All pools will remain open through this swim season.

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