Pool lift compliance date extended

The compliance date for a new law requiring lifts at all public pools in the United States has been given a second extension, giving the hotel industry time to lobby against part of the law.

The new compliance deadline is January 31, 2013.

The lifts are being required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to give the disabled better access to public pools.

Stephen Green, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association says the industry fully agrees with the spirit of the law but believes the use of temporary pool lifts should be allowed.

The law, as it's written right now, requires more expensive permanent lifts.

Under the new guidelines, a pool under 300 linear feet must provide one means of access that's a sloped entry or a pool lift. For larger pools, there must be two means of access which can be a pool lift, sloped entry, pool stairs, transfer wall or transfer system. Wading pools must have a sloped entry. Spas and lazy rivers also fall under the regulations.

The original deadline for compliance was March 15th, but the Department of Justice gave the industry a 60-day extension, which would have expired Monday, May 21st.

Greene says the extension gives them more time to explain the hospitality industry's point of view. In addition to the permanent lifts being expensive, Greene says the companies that make the lifts couldn't meet the immediate demand created by the law. He also pointed out that permanent lifts, in the Grand Strand's salt water environment, would be prone to rust because they couldn't be stored away in the winter months.

Greene was notified of the extension by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association's national partner.

The AH&LA said in a news release Friday that the "DOJ found that the delay will allow the Department to "continue to educate covered entities about their obligations under the 2010 Standards...and to address misunderstandings that could lead covered entities to take unnecessary and counterproductive steps...."

The AH&LA said the DOJ had received over 1,400 comments asking for the compliance date to be extended.

The DOJ noted that this delay does not affect pool and spas that are under construction or are being altered. The fixed lift requirement applies now to pools and spas being constructed or altered. For a full description of the DOJ's extension, click here.

Brad Dean, chairman of the board of directors for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, offers the following comments in response to the U.S. Department of Justice's postponement of the compliance date regarding changes to the 2010 Americas with Disabilities Act:

"The extension of the compliance date to Jan. 31, 2013, is positive news for the travel, tourism and lodging industries concerned in their ability to comply with the changes made to the 2010 ADA Act by earlier deadlines. This extension allows properties the time to appropriately prepare for any changes and also allows more time to encourage passage of the Pool 'SAFE' Act, legislation that would revise the recent changes made to the ADA Act by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Our South Carolina delegation in Washington, D.C. has continued to be advocate on our behalf as they urge a common sense approach with these revisions. Their support has been critical, and with the additional time granted to look at this issue, we'll continue to encourage revisions allowing all guests access to pools in a safe way that makes sense to both those using and maintaining public pools in our area."