Hammond Park Pool, one of just a handful of private pools in the area, recently made good on its word to install two pool lifts compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The installation came after Howard County granted about $16,000 to Hammond Park Pool, which operates as a nonprofit community swim club, based on the pool board's proposal to add the two chairs and replace a cracked diving board, according to Mike Shugar, vice president of for the pool. The money was granted last year and the chairs were installed in the off-season to be ready for Memorial Day.
"They put out $50,000 for I think six or seven pools," he said of the new Howard County grant money for private pools that aren't part of the Columbia Association.
The chairs are something that the board had been trying to get for many years but couldn't afford to do it on its own since each costs more than $5,000, Shugar said. The board had to step up the pressure to obtain grant money when they were told after an inspection that they might not be able to open for the summer without ADA-compliant chair lifts.
"At some point we knew we were gonna have to get it really soon," said Rachel Janush, the pool's president. "We were very fortunate that the grant came along when it did."
The addition of the new pool lifts were timely for long-time Hammond Village resident Arline Torcisi, who recently had two knee replacements. Torcisi is known her as the First Lady of the Pool since her husband was the first president of the pool when it opened on Memorial Day in 1969.
Torcisi, whose youngest child is in his 40s, said "It's probably been 30 years since we've really belonged [to the pool]," but she returned because she needed aquatic therapy for her knees and was left without many options.
"I think that's kind of what brought her back here," said Janush. "She was initially going to go to another pool that didn't have the lifts."
Torcisi said that she couldn't make it up the steps at the other pools, and probably wouldn't be able to make it out using just the steps at Hammond Park Pool either.
"[The lifts] are the only way I can get in and out without help," she said.
Janush said that in addition to Torcisi, she was pleasantly surprised at how many people were making use of the new chair lifts.
"You can pick it up and store it at night, but it's usually out at least half of the time," she said.
Eric Devroye, the pool's vice president of administration, said in the coming year he plans to make the handicap bathroom more accessible as well.