Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State mandate: Clearwater's lifeguard station needs to be handicapped-accessible

The Clearwater Beach lifeguard station is being renovated and the state is forcing city officials to make the upper floors handicapped-accessible — though the only people who use the space are lifeguards. A waiver request was turned down.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

The Clearwater Beach lifeguard station is being renovated and the state is forcing city officials to make the upper floors handicapped-accessible — though the only people who use the space are lifeguards. A waiver request was turned down.

CLEARWATER — Clearwater Beach's lifeguards are in great shape. Most were competitive swimmers in college. They routinely swim, run and lift weights to maintain their edge.

But government regulations are requiring that their headquarters on the beach be made handicapped-accessible, even though the only people who ever use the two-story building are the lifeguards.

Another example of your tax dollars at work.

"It's odd. Obviously no one here is handicapped. No one in a wheelchair has ever asked to come up here," head lifeguard Donovan Burns said during an interview on the building's second floor. He noted that disabled people can borrow fat-tired beach wheelchairs from the lifeguard station for free, but those are stored on the ground floor.

The little yellow building near Pier 60 has to be brought into compliance with the state building code and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

This was triggered when Clearwater recently decided to spend $455,700 of revenue from beach parking meters to renovate and expand the lifeguard building. Among other things, the city will be adding a third floor so the lifeguards can see the entire beach better.

Clearwater officials are a bit baffled by the order to make the upper floors handicapped-accessible. They expected to get a waiver so they could skip that requirement, but the state turned them down.

"Our premise was that a lifeguard has to be physically fit. If you can't go down stairs, you can't be a lifeguard. And the building isn't open to the public," said Clearwater parks and recreation director Kevin Dunbar, who oversees the beach rescue team. "But common sense doesn't really play into it.

"They said, 'What happens if the public comes in on a tour or something like that? You have to make it accessible.' "

Florida officials say rules are rules, and that Clearwater has to follow the state building code.

The Florida Building Commission says it turned down the city's request for a waiver because it wouldn't cost more than 20 percent of the construction job to make the building accessible to the disabled.

"This is basically a black and white issue for us," said the commission's spokesman, James Miller.

So, how much will this cost?

Clearwater has ruled out installing an elevator in the building. Instead, engineers are planning a wheelchair lift attached to a stairway railing.

Clearwater's City Council will likely hire a construction firm next month to renovate the lifeguard building. Work could start in September and must be finished by next spring break.

It's not clear yet exactly how much the lift will cost. Dunbar recalled that, years ago, the city also was ordered to install a wheelchair lift for the home dugout at Bright House Field, where the Philadelphia Phillies have their spring training.

That one cost $18,000.

"It has sat unused for seven years," Dunbar said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

State mandate: Clearwater's lifeguard station needs to be handicapped-accessible 07/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 22, 2010 7:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.