Broken Showerheads in Longmont Recreation Center, Sunset Pool Locker Rooms Prove Difficult to Fix
Consistent punctures and damage to the hose extending into a hand-held showerhead in a wheelchair-accessible stall of the family locker room in the Longmont Recreation Center have demanded the apparatus be replaced every two to three months since the facility opened in 2001.
As it currently sits, the showerhead is in the only stall of the five in the family locker room designated as wheelchair-accessible.
In the past, the showerhead has been able to attach to the wall by both a high fixture for use by non-handicapped patrons as well as a low fixture, but it is currently stuck in a hand railing about waist-high, which makes it accessible to those in a wheelchair to grab the showerhead and use it as a wand to rinse.
That arrangement is compliant with American Disability Association guidelines for wheelchair accessibility, but it makes the shower stall less usable for non-handicapped patrons, who often use it when the other four are occupied, according to Jeff Friesner, Longmont recreation manager.
“On the wall is supposed to be the mount, where the shower head is supposed to attach, one up and one down. What’s broken about it is there is no mount to put the showerhead back,” said Andy Smith, who has taken his daughter to the recreation center every Wednesday for the last three years. “The showerhead sits in the railing that you would use to brace yourself. And it’s just shoved in there.”
Friesner said the metal fixtures that hold the showerhead to the wall when it is not being grasped often cut into the hose when patrons remove it from the wall, and after awhile of being held to the wall by the fixtures, the hose often get stretched out too far. He said he also suspects vandalism has ruined some of the showerheads that have had to be replaced.
The city has been aware of the problem for a number of years, he added, and has tried to solve it with various methods but achieved no long-term success.
Among the attempts to make the shower stall convenient for both handicapped and non-handicapped rec center visitors was a system that asked patrons in wheelchairs to check out a showerhead and hose apparatus at the front desk and attach it in the shower stall, but that was stopped.
“That is not fair to those handicapped people, to make them go do something different than the other customers,” Friesner said.
While the optics of the current situation — with the showerhead stuck upside down in the stall’s handrailing — are not ideal, Friesner said it is the best way to make the hose last as long as possible, since there is less of a chance of it ripping on the metal wall fixture, while also keeping it wheelchair-accessible.
“It isn’t worth fixing,” he said.
Costs associated with the replacement of the showerheads over the years were not immediately available.
Smith, who is not handicapped, said he would like to see a more permanent solution.
“I would imagine everyone would have to avoid using that shower whether they’re handicapped or not,” he said.
Swimmers at the Sunset Pool have also complained about several unusable or broken shower apparatuses there since it opened in 2011.
“We can’t find anything that has the longevity we want,” Friesner said.
A proposal to install two separate showerheads that extend directly out of the wall, thus eliminating the more fragile hose part, is being considered for the rec center, Friesner said. However, he wonders whether a fixed showerhead would make it harder for handicapped people to shower than the current option to simply grab the showerhead out of the railing and grasp it like a wand to rinse.
“We’ll talk with handicapped people who use the stall,” he said. “If it works at the recreation center, we’ll try it at the pool.”
Suggestions on ways to fix the shower stalls can be left for Friesner at 303-651-8393.
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, email@example.com and twitter.com/samlounz .