New Port Richey pool to become more handicap-accessible
NEW PORT RICHEY - To make access easier at the city pool, the New Port Richey City Council will allot $6,500 to install automated door openers. Disabled people who use a scooter, mobility cart or wheelchair have complained about the difficulty they have opening the bathroom doors and the doors to the pool deck, officials said this week. Even though the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center meets federal guidelines under the Americans with Disability Act, the upgrades will make the facility more ADA-friendly. City officials have discussed ways to attract more members to the rec center."That sounds good," Judy Kargman said. The disabled Vietnam War veteran gets around on a mobility cart. Kargman complained for years about access at the pool. Her husband, Larry, has been battling his own health problems and cannot always accompany her to the pool to help open gates and doors. She said she would like the option to nav-igate the pool area on her own. "A letter was submitted to City Council and a second individual contacted the Parks and Recreation Department," City Manager John Schneiger wrote in a memo to the council. "Both individuals expressed that they were unable to utilize the Recreation and Aquatic Center in their scooters due to the weight of the doors." Initially, Parks and Recreation Director Elaine Smith searched for sponsors or grants to pay for the access improvements. The city is facing budget cutbacks because of falling tax revenues. When no sponsors came forward, city officials scoured the city's fiscal 2012 budget for options. They found $6,500 that could be transferred from money already set aside for special purpose equipment into the department's maintenance fund. Two handrails are currently set up in a handicap-accessible bathroom stall in a poolside bathroom, Smith said.