Via myway.com (emphasis mine):
Hotels, rec centers try to slow pool access regs
Apr 18, 3:38 AM (ET)
By RUSS BYNUM
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – Owners and managers of swimming pools at hotels, city recreation centers and public parks are scrambling to install mechanical chair lifts to comply with new federal requirements that all public pools be accessible to disabled swimmers.
Some hotels fear the cost of the equipment or fines for noncompliance could put them out of business, and an industry lobbyist says others may close their pools this summer if they can’t upgrade in time, though the government can offer more time to those having trouble paying for it. Swimmers with disabilities say the changes are overdue.
“I couldn’t get into the pool without it,” said Karen Kitchen of Savannah, who has multiple sclerosis and relies on a poolside chair lift at the Chatham County Aquatic Center for her physical therapy workouts up to four times a week.
Adding to the problem is a backlog of orders created by the rush to meet a May deadline. Harry Spirides ordered lifts last month for the hotel he owns on Georgia’s largest public beach and was told they should arrive in late April. He expects to pay $12,000 for the lifts at the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island.
“Our supplier is backed up with orders,” said Spirides. “Everybody’s rushing to comply; everybody wants to comply. But when you have tens of thousands of swimming pools that have to be retrofitted with these lifts, it takes time.”
Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010 say pools must be upgraded with chair lifts, essentially mini cranes that move wheelchair users into the water. The initial deadline was March 16, but confusion over the details and pool owners’ insistence for more time caused the Justice Department to give them until May 21.
The law doesn’t affect private clubs or pools owned by neighborhood associations that aren’t open to the public.
It’s a massive and expensive undertaking. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals says its research shows that between 235,000 and 310,000 pools require the upgrade. Manufacturers estimate the lifts run $3,500 to $6,500, and installation can double those costs. Altogether, owners could face combined costs exceeding $1 billion.
The Justice Department now says chair lifts must be bolted down. That declaration came as most hotels were buying portable lifts that don’t require expensive installation and can be wheeled into storage until a guest needs them, said Kevin Maher of the American Hotels and Lodging Association.
The group argues that fixed chair lifts pose a risk to children who are tempted to play on them. Maher, the association’s vice president for government relations, said hoteliers fear their insurance rates could increase.
The association is urging the Justice Department to reconsider portable lifts and extend the deadline. Without more time, Maher said, some hotels may close their pools this summer rather than risk lawsuits or fines.
You will find the rest of the article at this link.
I have no issue with making reasonable accommodations for the disabled, but these requirements are so over-the-top they defy common sense.
If you show up at your favorite hotel this summer, do not be surprised to find the pool closed, and be prepared to shell out more money for your stay if it is open.
Hotels are not going to eat the cost of the lifts and their probably increased insurance costs – they will pass them along to their guests.