Pinney Pool closed following ADA lawsuit

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Sgt. John Pinney Memorial Pool now sits unusable after being closed until further notice late last month.

The city’s only public pool was forced to close following a lawsuit against the city by claimant William Johnson, a wheelchair-bound paraplegic.

Johnson filed a complaint against the city in 2015 after visiting the pool with his grandchildren where he reportedly found the premises difficult, and in some cases impossible, to navigate. Unable to adequately access the pool, bathrooms and other services at the aging facility, he filed a claim with the city. That claim was was denied.

In 2016 Johnson sued the city under the Americans with Disabili-ties Act. The settlement resulted in Johnson’s receiving $70,000 for damages, fees and expenses. Because the city lacked sufficient funds to bring the pool up to ADA standards, management decided to close the pool instead.

A few members of the public expressed their dismay regarding the pool’s closure during public comment at Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Ridgecrest City Council.

But the outcry over the Ridgecrest landmark’s closure has been loudest on social media. Scores of community members have lamented the closure and shared memories of summers spent at the pool while some others have criticized Johnson for taking a legal action that resulted in the loss of access to the general public.

City officials declined to comment on the issue, citing a legal order prohibiting them from discussing it with members of the public.

The News Review requested copies of any publicly available documents regarding the case, but city officials did not respond by press time.

A local draw for more than 50 years, Pinney Pool was named for Sgt. John Scott Pinney, a Burroughs High School graduate killed in the Vietnam War.

Story First Published: 2017-02-03