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Jennifer Robison

Strip pools get reprieve from federal rule

24 May 2012

It's not closing time yet for Southern Nevada's famed pool parties.

The Strip's hotel-casinos got a reprieve from a federal regulation that could require them to close their pools while making expensive retrofits to allow access to the disabled.

Implementation of the rule, scheduled to take effect Monday, was delayed until Jan. 31. It also appears the regulation's proposed standards were eased.

The Department of Justice rule, part of the Americans with Disabilities Act's Standards for Accessible Design, initially called for permanent lifts installed poolside to help disabled patrons get into and out of the water.

Properties violating the law would have faced up to $55,000 in fines for the first offense, and double that for further violations.

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals said that as many as 315,000 public pools nationwide would have had to add chairlifts under the rule, which could have cost pool owners more than $1 billion.

Lawmakers, including Nevada Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, and hotel lobbyists fought the standard, saying that less expensive portable pool lifts were more practical and already available at many properties.

Executives with the Nevada Hotel & Lodging Association told Review-Journal reporters and editors this month that retrofitting pools with permanent lifts could cost as much as $50,000 per pool. A mobile lift that moves from pool to pool as it's needed costs about $6,000.

On Tuesday, the American Gaming Association announced the delay to January.

The group also noted changes in the proposed regulations that tie requirements to a pool's size and the elimination of the permanent-lift mandate.

Now, pools less than 300 linear feet will need one access point that could be either a sloped entry or a pool lift. Bigger pools must have two entry points, with options that include a pool lift, a sloped entry, stairs or a transfer wall.
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