WARNER ROBINS -- More parks in Houston County are becoming accessible to the disabled.
The Kiwanis Club of Perry recently donated a pair of wheelchair-accessible swings that are now available in Rozar Park.
In Warner Robins, the Lions Club is working on “a full access park” that will include wheelchair-accessible swings and a merry-go-round that includes spots for wheelchairs, said treasurer Randall Dodd.
“There’s nothing like it in Middle Georgia,” said Dodd, who is heading the project. “We’ve got people who have children in school who have to go out to the park, and the kids in wheelchairs have to watch the other kids play.”
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Dodd said the club has been organizing the new park, to be on Moody Road north of Russell Parkway, for more than three years. The city has agreed to lease the property to the club, Dodd said. The park could open next spring.
“There are a lot more (disabled) people in Warner Robins than people realize,” Dodd said. “It’s a lot more prevalent than you or I would imagine until you get involved in it.”
Accessibility for all aspects of life has been a national goal since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. The act, which requires facilities to make their activities equally accessible to disabled people, has been amended twice since then.
Officials at facilities nationwide are scrambling to understand and implement the 2010 amendments that were required to be done by March 15. Because of the confusion -- mostly over lifts for pools and other water-based activities -- Attorney General Eric Holder extended the deadline 60 days.
Dave Yanchulis, a spokesman for the U.S. Access Board, an agency dedicated to accessibility for the disabled, said the newest standards are clarifications for facilities not explicitly regulated in prior years.
“It’s giving people more tools and better understanding of what access means for certain environments,” Yanchulis said.
The cities of Warner Robins and Perry seem to be among the entities that haven’t yet finalized their pool upgrades and may need further clarification.
Lee Gilmour, Perry city manager, said City Council needs to decide whether installing the newly required lift that transports wheelchair-bound people to the swimming pool is an option for the Creekwood Park pool.
James Dodson, Warner Robins recreation director, said Warner Robins still has time to comply.
Yanchulis said the new regulation pertains to all public pools.
Both cities’ officials said their pools will be open this summer, and measures to increase accessibility are being reviewed.
“I’m sure we’re going to reach out to other organizations to find out if they want to help,” said Rick Kilgore Perry Parks and Recreation Department director. “We just want kids to have fun when they come to the park.”
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.