Tag Archives: strollers

Pool Accessibility and Missing the Point

8 Jul

While I appreciate both Ralph Baird (Aquatics Director) and Tony Castilli (Director of Communications) taking the time to respond to me, they both missed the point. The point wasn’t to get a form email/comment saying thanks for the concern and we value everyone’s accessibility, please call ahead when you’re coming. The point and issue is the fact that this is an extremely SIMPLE fix. Unlock the gate. You don’t even have to keep it open – just unlock it so that those of us who can’t walk down the stairs can open the gate and walk in just like those who don’t have strollers or wheelchairs can do. I shouldn’t have to call attention to myself (literally) just to get my daughter and myself to the pool. And neither should a handicapped person – that’s just cruel.

There’s no money involved, no monkeying around with facility architecture, and no heavy lift – just unlock the gate. If the lifeguards are that worried about people walking in without paying, then staff a table at that entrance to collect money. The driveway up to the gate is perfectly accessible by those with strollers and those in wheelchairs so to keep the gate off the driveway unlocked is really a no brainer.

I don’t think that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed so that facilities could just tell patrons to call them ahead of time instead of allowing them to use the facility just as an able-bodied person could. How insensitive of Alexandria and its pool operators.

The secondary issue here is the utter lack of respect that the lifeguards working seem to have for the patrons. Yes, I was not super nice this weekend after I asked, again, why the gate isn’t open – but that’s only because every time I come, and every time I ask I met with major attitude about what an inconvenience it is to the pool staff for them to have the gate unlocked. “People will walk in without paying” and “if you don’t like it, go to another pool” are unacceptable comments. 1. Most people will NOT walk in without paying – that’s not saying much for city residents, and 2. Telling me to go to another pool because I’m asking you to do your job is astonishing.

Again, I cannot believe that Alexandria City has nothing – not one word – to say about the attitude and rudeness of their employees. There are simple fixes to these problems. 1. Unlock the gate (off the driveway, not at the top of the stairs – that would defeat the purpose if the gate unlocked was at the top of a set of stairs) and tell your lifeguards to knock off the attitude. That the pool manager allows this to happen makes it all that much worse.

I love living in Alexandria, the neighborhoods are great, the shopping, restaurants, family-friendly activities (usually), and people make this place a great town to raise a family in – but the response – both the comment in my first post, and the email I received is incredibly disheartening and disappointing. It’s unacceptable to be discriminated against because I’m a Mom, and even more infuriating that the city is seemingly unconcerned about wheelchair access to pool patrons. While I one day will be able to come to the pool without a stroller, that is usually not the case for wheelchair bound people.

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.

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