Villagers divided on spending $340,000 on chairlifts for swimming pools

A Villages-News.com poll shows that Villagers are divided on the idea of spending $340,000 on chairlifts for swimming pools.

The Project Wide Advisory Committee this week discussed the possibility of spending $340,000 of residents’ amenity money to install aquatic chairlifts at 34 swimming pools.

A poll conducted by Villages-News.com showed that 52 percent of respondents favor the installation of the chairlifts, while 48 percent do not.

Villages-News.com heard from many readers on the topic.

“Only add them where they are needed. It is a waste of money to put them in places where they won’t be used,” said Peter Jackson, of the San Pedro Villas.

An aquatic chairlift at a pool in The Villages.

Another reader agreed.

“I think if we have one ADA pool within a 5-mile radius that would be plenty,” said George Grafer, of the Village of  Virginia Trace.

The sticker shock of installing 34 chairlifts at $10,000 each stirred similar responses.

“I feel there is an obligation to allow the handicapped people to enjoy the pools of our Village. However, I don’t believe we need to have a lift at so many pools. More than likely, the person it will help will not be riding a golf cart to the pool or maybe even driving themselves. Instead, maybe put 12 lifts at various pools that are not too far from most of the villages, thereby reducing the cost considerably while helping those who need them,” said Pat Moran, of the Village of Hillsborough.

There is plenty of support for the installation of the chairlifts.

“I’m at a loss to understand why this issue is even under debate. The ADA requires accessibility, period.  Do we force disabled people to sit outside until enough of them assemble?  How many is enough?  Come on, people,” said Doris Bryant, of the Village of  Briar Meadow.

Sandy Fuller, of the Village of Glenbrook, said chairlifts simply make sense in a senior community.

“What seems simple to someone who has not experienced a handicap, is very difficult for those who are,” she said.

Another reader said providing access is the right thing to do in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

“Exclusion doesn’t suit The Villages. To exclude disabled, wheelchair persons is NOT the picture I want to see and will not defend. Do unto others,” said Veronica Goldman, of the Village of Santo Domingo.

PWAC members are expected to take up the topic again when they meet in February.