The Moving Target of Swimming Pool Safety Compliance

by John Gitzinger, Director of Commercial Service, Platinum Poolcare

 

The current state of affairs

The relationship between condominium/townhome associations and their swimming pools has become more and more complicated over the last 3 to 4 years. Many factors have contributed to this complexity, which include: The Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGB), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the requirement of CPO certification and the more active policing role played by the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH). The IDPH has closed many a pool for failure to meet the minimum requirements of the new VGB code, and safety seems to be at the top of the list for IDPH enforcement agents this year. Trying to learn all code requirements for swimming pools can appear to be a daunting task, as those who take care of the pool without the help of guards or attendants can attest.

IDPH and Cook County are looking closely at existing facilities to determine code compliance, and have begun to levy fines on properties deemed to not to have met minimum code requirements. Additionally, these agencies are issuing monetary fines for properties for not completing the minimum repairs required to meet the code in a timely fashion. The agencies have historically been noting these warnings on the inspection reports, and are now turning to enforcement for laggards. The associated fines are generally assessed on a per diem basis, and will add up quickly if not addressed.

Many association pools are granted "grandfather" status, thereby reverting to past code requirements for compliance. Every issue is not necessarily covered under this exception, however, and certain renovation projects may require the association to bring additional seemingly unrelated safety items up to current minimum standards. It is important to understand that while some renovation work does not require an IDPH permit, most work done on the swimming pool actually will. For example, IDPH will require a permit for any changes to existing equipment unless it is an exact replacement. This is true even if the existing equipment is undersized, or incorrectly installed. It is the responsibility of the association to make sure all permits have been obtained and all inspections have been completed.

Opening A Shell

By James Atlas

Final Installment

Roberts Lo 014

Boundless Intricacy

As you might also recall from the February 2008 feature, figuring out how to separate the indoor and outdoor pools proved to be a surprising challenge.

The swim channel under the clamshell was intended to allow easy access between the two pools, but the client (who knows as well as anyone how raw the winters can get in the Chicago area) wanted to be able to close the channel off when the weather turned cold.

That seemingly direct thought resulted in a three-year odyssey that led us to multiple engineers and system fabricators in quest of a workable solution. The irony is, what now appears to all the world to be a simple, retractable acrylic panel – perhaps the least visually arresting element in the entire project – was by far the most difficult effect to achieve.

For nearly six years, this was a project that occupied most of James Atlas' working life, challenging him and the staff at Platinum Poolcare Aquatech with pursuing development of a watershape complex marked by great ambition, shifting needs and innumerable revisions. Now that his work is complete and the site is finally ready for its close-ups, Atlas guides us through a masterpiece he justly sees as his firm's crowning achievement.

Opening AShell

By James Atlas

Roberts Lo 034Most of the time, residential construction projects that stretch beyond a half-decade in the making involve significant delays or work stoppages. The project pictured here known hereabouts as "The Shell Pool"– took nearly six years to complete, and what's unusual about it is that it was basically a continuous effort. Even when we weren't on site, seldom did a day go by when we weren't deeply involved on some level in design work, engineering and/or project planning.

Now that it's finished, I can say without hesitation that this was the most detailed, refined, all-consuming project we at Platinum Poolcare Aquatech of Wheeling, Ill., have ever tackled. I can't begin to calculate the collective number of hours spent in client and staff meetings, phone conversations, skull sessions and design-revision meetings – and that doesn't include time spent on site in bringing this amazing project to fruition.

Even compared to the many intricate commercial projects we've worked on through the years, this one set a new standard in my experience with respect both to the spirit of innovation and the mountains of patience required to get the job done. Today, with all that effort behind us, it's a rare pleasure to step back and get an overview of what we've accomplished – a pleasure I'd like to share with you here.