WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - March 16, 2012. That's the date the Americans with Disabilities Act required all businesses with pools to have handicap accessible entry. Yet with the demand for pool lifts, many businesses like the West Lafayette Municipal Pool weren't receiving the chairs until months later.
"They were probably ordered on time, but it took us until the last week of June to actually get the lifts on site," said West Lafayette Municipal pool manager Sue Mattern.
Mattern said once the lifts arrived, they only took a few hours to install. The West Lafayette pool received two chairs, one for the main pool on North Salisbury Street, and one for the practice pool. The two lifts cost a total of about $9,000.
Mattern said in her 16 years at the pool, she only used the previous portable chair once. Yet, she said it's still a good investment because anyone who needs it, can use it.
"It's not just special needs, it might be mobility problems, surgeries, whatever," said Mattern. "With baby boomers getting older, there could be more use just from that. So, I'm no spring chicken, I might be using this bad boy."
Mattern said although the chairs are designed for users to operate independently, she's still going to have her lifeguards go through training on how to use them.
When lifeguard Julian Jimenez tried it for the first time, he said it wasn't too bad.
"It's pretty easy," said Jimenez. "It has the basic up, down, left, right, and it's pretty smooth. It doesn't jerk that much, or at all really, and it's a pretty quick response. As soon as I took my finger off of it, it stopped moving."
Yet, while it's easy to maneuver, pool manager Emily Bunder said it's not easy to see around. She said while they are happy to accommodate people who need the lift, it obstructs lifeguards' view when trying to guard certain areas of the pool.
"It is really big and it's a little difficult," said Bunder. "It kind of creates sort of an obstruction of view for the lifeguards on the chair, and it makes it a little more difficult to watch all of the swimmers around it, on the other side, and in the stairwell."
Bunder said in order to combat the problem, they have a lifeguard guarding the stairs from the guard window. She said that way, everyone really will be able to enjoy the pool during these record-setting temperatures.
Mattern said they are also working on lowering shelves to make it more handicap-accessible. She said that will likely happen when the pool is closed this fall.
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