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As public pools set to open for season, handicap accessibility on the minds of many

By NICOLE HART

UTICA and ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - It's getting to be that time of year again, pool season, and this year, part of the pool opening process is making sure pools are handicap accessible.

Sean Brown, the Director of the Youth Bureau in the City of Utica says they are up to par with the "new" standards.

"The pools have been up to code, I should say, for years," Brown said.

Meanwhile, Randy Hirschey, the Vice-President of Facilities at the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley Rome says that they are working towards meeting those requirements.

"We already have the other means of entry, now we need the lift," Hirschey said.

Two different facilities, providing the same service, but both facing the same deadline of January 31, 2013.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says swimming pools now need to follow stricter standards.

"A lift and another means of entry," explained Hirschey.

The civil rights law was enacted to prohibit discrimination at pools and spas on the basis of disability. Under the law, swimming pools with less than 300 lineal feet of poll wall will be required to have a sloped entry and a lift. Pools with 300 or more lineal feet of pool wall will require two means of sloped entry, two lifts, transfer walls, transfer systems and stairs.

Any wave action, leisure river, or other pool where user entry is limited to one area will now require sloped entry, a lift, and transfer systems under the new law. Wading pools will require sloped entry and spas will require a lift, transfer walls, and transfer systems.

The deadline for these guidelines are for already existing pools. Newly-built pools are expected to comply immediately.

The City of Utica says they're on par with the codes, while the YMCA says they are trying to purchase the required lifts, which are roughly $3,000 - $4,000 a piece.

Brown explained to NEWSChannel 2 the different things they have within the pool facilities for handicapped people,

"With Buckley and Addison Miller, there are two walkways to get out, there are stairs with railings," Brown said. "We do have that one Hoyer lift at Addison and Buckley as well as there is a walkway and a ramp at the North Utica pool."

Hirschey says they haven't had any problems over the years, so he doesn't think change is necessarily crucial.

"This pool behind me has been here for 40 years and we've never had an issue with people complaining the handicapped can't use this pool," Hirchey said."We had a lift at each one of these pools, but they rusted out because of lack of use."

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