Pool Accessibility and Compromise

20 Jul

After a whirl-wind weekend, I’ve finally got some time to update everyone on what happened when I met with Alexandria City last week!  Baby R is sleeping, hubby is out and I’ve got some peace and quiet! Well at least the peace part – Baby R sounds like Darth Vader right now.

Thursday night, I spoke with Ralph Baird the Aquatics Director for the City of Alexandria and we had a frank talk, not only about the accessibility to patrons, but about the attitude of the lifeguards. As I suspected, the snarky comment from the lifeguard – who chose to speak out, but not release his name (wimp) – was NOT the view of the city, and is not supported by the city. But on to bigger and better things – COMPROMISE!

Ralph and I discussed the situation and I expressed my concern about the difficulties accessing the pool. He appreciated my dilema and mentioned some options. One was to have some other Moms staff the gate for those who need the gate unlocked, but unfortunately neither of us knew if there were a group of local Moms who spent the days sitting at the pool who would be willing to take on the task. So onwards and upwards! Ralph was not comfortable leaving the gate unlocked, but NOT because people would walk in without paying, but because kids might get out and that would not be good for anyone. My thought is that parents should be watching their children, it’s their responsibility not the City’s, but I can certainly stand behind a policy that takes the safety of kids into account. So after a few rounds, we finally decided on a doorbell. This would allow those of us who need to use a gate to have it opened when needed, but still keep everyone safely inside the pool area. And omit yelling for help.

While the gate isn’t unlocked, I am very thankful that the City took the time to address the issue, discuss options and agree on a solution that helps everyone. Ralph emailed Friday and said the doorbell he had picked up wasn’t working well past 50 feet, but that he would keep trying until the situation was taken of.

I can’t thank the City enough for working with me, and responding to my concerns. This is a prime example of how social media, coupled with community activism  and the desire for a positive outcome can all come together for the greater good. The gate might not be open – my original desire – but the pool is now (or will be when the doorbell is installed) accessible for not only those with strollers, but for handicap individuals (no more discrimination!) and those who can’t monkey with the steps. As I said before, I love living in the City of Alexandria, and I can’t wait to head to the pool and ring the bell!

On a side note, I was given Ralph’s cell phone, and given instructions to take a picture of any lifeguard or cashier who was NOT professional/appropriate and send it to him for accountability. Moral of the story? The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you get more with honey than vinegar, and politeness/professionalism is always important.


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