By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
While some Central Texas residents are anticipating the upcoming holiday weekend and the opening of public pools, local municipalities are getting a break from new federal regulations that benefit disabled swimmers.
Revisions in the Americans With Disabilities Act in 2010 required publicly accessible pools, such as at parks, recreation centers and hotels, to have motorized lifts or sloped entries into the water. The original compliance deadline was May 16, then delayed until Monday.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice postponed the compliance deadline until Jan. 31, 2013. However, several local governments and organizations are trying to comply before summer's end.
In Copperas Cove, city officials purchased lifts for its South Park and City Park pools. Each one cost about $4,000, said Ken Wilson, head of parks and leisure services for Copperas Cove ,who didn't have a timeline for delivery and installation.
"There are a few different kinds of lifts, and the price really depends on what you want," said Wilson. "Usually, you're looking at a price range of between $3,000 and $10,000."
Paul Britton, director of aquatics and facilities for the Armed Services YMCA in Harker Heights, also is waiting on a lift for the organization's pool. He, like Wilson, ordered one from the Hutto-based Commercial Swim Management.
"We ordered it in March, and it's on back-ordered, so we don't know exactly when we'll get it," said Britton, who estimated the cost of the lift and installation at about $4,000. "I think there were a lot of folks trying to meet that deadline (May 21) and caused some back up."
The City of Killeen has spent more than $8,000 to install equipment at its Long Branch and Pershing Park pools by their summer openings on June 2, said Hilary Shine, the city's spokesperson, adding that the pools at the city's aquatic center already are compliant.
While some cities and organizations are waiting to retrofit their pools, the City of Harker Heights doesn't have to worry about meeting compliance standards.
"I'm happy to say we won't need to buy any equipment for our pools," said Joe Brown, recreation superintendent for Harker Heights.
The city's pool, located in Carl Levin Park, uses a gradual slope, which allows swimmers to wade into the water instead of using steps. The design element is called "zero entry" and is an alternate option to the lifts required in the regulations. "It was built with that feature, so we are in compliance," said Brown.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.
Local pool opening dates
Aquatic Center opening weekend: Saturday; will remain open on weekends until Sept. 30.
Long Branch opening weekend: Saturday; open for summer on June 2.
Pershing Park opening weekend: Saturday; open for summer on June 2.
Carl Levin Pool opening weekend: Saturday; will open for summer on June 5.
City Park Pool opening weekend: Saturday; will open for summer June 2.
South Park Pool: opens June 2.