Installing automatic doors at the Trust House Recreation Centre would help improve access to the facilities local disability advocates say. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

Council says accessibility is key to planning

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Despite the installation of a mobile lifting hoist to improve access to pools at the Trust House Recreation Centre in Masterton early last year, navigating the outward-opening swing doors can still be difficult for some, local disability advocates say.

Masterton man Matthew Wills regularly visits the recreation centre building, which is owned by the Masterton District Council, to go to the gym where he’s been a member for about six years.

He said navigating the entrance was more difficult in his manual wheelchair than his automatic, and the doors could also be difficult for people with other disabilities who he knew visited the centre.

“They should really consider putting in automatic doors. It would make a huge difference.”

Generally, community access was pretty good but there were “definitely some areas in need of improvement”, the Trust House Recreation centre being one, and footpaths another, he said.

Wills hoped people would give serious consideration to access issues.

“It’s really a legal need being a public place.”

Wairarapa District Health Board sub-regional disability advisory committee representative Ruth Carter said it had always been an “awkward door” and a “hindrance” for people to get into the facility as it opened out towards the footpath.

“They’ve got an easy access pool but not an easy access door.

“It’s hindering people from the gymnasium and exercising, all things they should be able to access.

“It’s an absolute necessity so people can go out and be part of the public.”

Masterton District Council community facilities and activities manager Andrea Jackson said the installation of automatic doors had been investigated several times in the past but was neither a cheap nor straightforward upgrade.

“Other options for upgrades are currently being explored,” she said. “We are actively looking at ways to improve ease of access throughout the facility, including improving the entranceways.”

She said accessibility improvements were a key part of council’s planning, but this had to be balanced with ongoing improvements to usability with critical plant maintenance and replacements.

“Our facilities are for everyone, and we are aware of the importance of the fitness centre and pool complex for both rehabilitation and exercise for those who may have more limited options for fitness, as well as being a place of recreation.”

Last year, the council purchased a motorised hoist to access the pools which included both a seat and sling facility, one of the few of its kind in the country.

The council also took delivery of a second new mobile hoist to assist people transferring from their own wheelchairs to the changing bed and back again last week.