Briarwood Pool receives no state funding to make facilities more accessible to people with disabilities

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Governor Tate Reeves denied funding that Briarwood Pool in Jackson planned to use to make its facilities more accessible to people with disabilities.

The governor also vetoed funding for several other projects, including a planned golf course at LeFleur’s Bulff State Park and a parking lot for the Jackson Convention Complex.

The pool, located at 570 Reddoch Drive and operated by a non-profit organization governed by a board of directors, is set to receive $250,000 from the legislature for upgrades that would have made it more user-friendly for anyone in a wheelchair or with low mobility.

Planned upgrades included the addition of a disabled van parking spot and additional Americans with Disabilities Act compliant parking spots, installation of a lift chair that can be used to assist with getting in and out of the pool and resurfacing the pool to make it more slip resistant.

Plans also included modifying the paddling pool so that it accommodated the needs of people in wheelchairs and improving the toilets so that they included changing spaces for people with disabilities and their companions.

The board developed a plan after studying what it could do to bring the pool into compliance with ADA Title III requirements established in 2010 by the Department of Justice to clarify and refine accessible design issues in swimming facilities, said Nell Knox, a board. pool member.

Briarwood Pool is home to the Jackson Public Schools swim team and it also provided a good reason to make sure any student who wants to be on the team can easily use the pool, she said. JPS held its first swimmage in September 2021.

“We provide our facility for free and the JPS swim team trains, runs time trials and runs swim meets during our off season,” Knox said.

The pool also serves as a venue for lifeguard courses, for Operation Shoestring campers to take swimming lessons, and for Boy Scouts to use for free water safety training.

The pool is operating on a budget of $150,000 with funds from the purchase of summer memberships, she said. The budget funds staff and maintenance of the pool and is sustainable through an ad valorem tax exemption.

During the 2021 legislative session, Yates introduced a bill-turned-law that granted Friends of Briarwood Pool an ad valorem tax exemption.

An ad valorem tax is a tax based on the taxable value of real or personal property. The most common ad valorem taxes are property taxes levied on real estate.

Friends of Briarwood Pool purchased the pool from an out-of-state lien holder in July 2020 and expected the nonprofit to qualify for the tax exemption, but discovered that it didn’t. was not the case.

Legislation introduced by Yates provided an ad valorem tax exemption for any swimming pool owned and operated by a non-profit organization that allows a public school swim team to use its facilities at no charge and offers its facilities to another non-profit organization to conduct water safety and lifeguard training programs.

Briarwood Pool has been in operation for over 50 years. It was formerly operated by the Jackson YMCA. The pool was closed in 2017 after the Jackson YMCA announced its decision to cease operation, but its members rallied and Friends of Briarwood Pool offered to lease the pool from the YMCA so it could remain in operation .

The pool, which requires a membership to use, is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and sometimes later if weather permits and lifeguards are available. “Everyone is welcome,” Knox said.

Pool members are made up of about 200 families and 24 individuals, Knox said. Memberships range from $300 for a single person to $470 for a family.

“Twenty-five years ago, joining the pool was $400,” Knox said, noting that memberships pay for lifeguards and other staff and pool maintenance.

For more information on pool membership, email [email protected]

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