Pool Accessibility – Inaccessible is Unacceptable

6 Jul

I admit it, I was not nice this weekend. I was a bit defensive and caustic. But I’m sick of fighting with surly unprofessional lifeguards! I live near a City of Alexandria pool, and visit regularly. It’s close by, the water is clean, and its family friendly. Great, right? Nope. Not only is it not stroller accessible, it’s not handicap accessible. And that is UNACCEPTABLE. In order to get my daughter to the pool, I have to carry her stroller down a flight of steps (with her in it that’s over 45 lbs) or take her out, find a lifeguard to help me carry it down, then figure out how to carry both her and stroller down a flight of steps. The other option is to yell through the fence to a lifeguard, ask them to open the gate and wait and wait and wait for said lifeguard to leave his or her post, find a person with a key and then open the gate. And let me tell you, there is MAJOR attitude when I do this. So I usually strap her in, and try not to dump her over while I haul the stroller down the steps.

So after a few times of doing this, I ask the lifeguards why the gate isn’t open. Their response: people might come in that way and not pay to use the pool. Here’s a novel idea: STAFF A TABLE!! There’s no reason that these lifeguards can’t staff a table to take money from patrons needing to use a gated entrance and not the steps. Not only can I not get to the pool without monkeying with my stroller, there is NO way a handicapped person could get to the pool. The City of Alexandria discriminates (knowingly or unknowingly) against families and handicapped people by allowing this to happen. This is against the law! The Americans With Disabilities Act prevents such discrimination.

Mind you, there are 9 lifeguards on duty at any given time. 3 watch the pool, and the other 6 sit at a table and gossip and complain about things. So because they are too lazy, and incompetent I have to struggle to get my daughter to the pool and a handicapped person would really have to make an effort. It’s not fair to discriminate against someone because your workers are lazy. The gate should be open so that people can enjoy the pool without calling attention to themselves.

Want to know the coup de grace moment? I was told that if I didn’t like it (meaning their lazy butts weren’t going to open the gate) that I could “GO TO ANOTHER POOL”. Who does that? Seriously!! I was so pissed about this, that it still makes my blood boil. Not only was this lifeguard completely rude and out of line (I was not that obtrusive to him) his BOSS was RIGHT THERE – and agreed with him. The quality of these employees hired by Alexandria City astonishes me.

I emailed the City of Alexandria’s Director of Aquatics, Ralph Baird earlier today and am very curious to know of his response.

2 Responses to “Pool Accessibility – Inaccessible is Unacceptable”

  1. Ms. Riedemann,

    Please accept my apologies that my call missed you yesterday afternoon at the number your provided below and that I have been unable to reply sooner…

    The City is very concerned about accessibility to the Warwick Village Pool by all our patrons. All are welcome to call ahead to the facility (703-519-3410) and ask for the “Pool Manager” to assist with gaining entry to the facility’s picnic area leading to the toddler pool and into the bath house. The Pool Manager will greet and provide assess to all those who call ahead and request this reasonable accommodation.

    Thanks for sharing your concern with us. We hope your summer is safe and enjoyable.

    Ralph Baird, CPRP AFO
    Aquatics Director
    City of Alexandria
    3210 King Street
    Alexandria, VA 22302
    (703) 746-5435
    (703) 746-5462 fax

  2. Anonymous July 10, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    As a lifeguard of the pool in question, I would first like to say to you ma’am that there are never 9 lifeguards on duty at Warwick pool. We are under strict instructions from the aquatics supervisors that there is to only ever be 6 lifeguards on duty. This mandate cuts down on the impression that patrons like yourself have; we do not just sit around gossiping all day. The employees inside that accept the money from the patrons are not lifeguards, but cashiers (just incase you were counting them in the alleged 9 lifeguards you claim to have been on duty). With 6 lifeguards, 3 up on the chair (sometimes 4 depending on how many people are in the pool) surveying the pool, and 2 or 3 down sitting around the table, we are able to have as much time down as we have to be in the chair (30-45 mins down 45 mins and up), which I’m sure any sane person would agree is the safest and most efficiant way to work in 90-100 degree weather. As for your complaints about the accessibility of the pool, we as lifeguards are not responsible for the construction or design of Warwick pool. We are not the ones who put a lock on the gate of the entrance of the pool area, and we do not control what the city decides to do about such difficulties. Our job is to mantain a safe swimming environment, and we are affective and successful at doing so. Staffing a table by that gate would not only create a danger for us personally (sitting on the sidewalk with lump sums of cash unprotected and not guarded) but would also add to a job description that we do not have. The other city pool was only suggested to you out of our effort to accomidate your needs. Through blogs, emails and tweets you have made it especially clear to the ENTIRE WORLD that you are not happy or satisfied with the lack of accesibility here at Warwick, so why not go somewhere where you’ll have nothing to complain about? I think it’s easy for someone who has nothing better to do with their time than blog all day to call other hardworking people lazy. I invite you to come to Warwick pool (without your 45lb stroller and child) and do our job for one day. Then maybe you’ll understand and have better incite upon what it is we ACTUALLY do here. Because sitting around and complaining/gossiping is not it.

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