“DAC began collecting and compiling the public and employee surveys, tabulating physical property reviews and evaluating public access to programs and activities along with effectiveness of the media that supports this access,” Mike Svaby, Director of Public Works, said. “All of this data is being compiled in a report that will be presented for review and comment on October 15 on the city website and on social media for a period of 45 days.”
According to Svaby, there are four steps involved in the process with the first underway as the review process continues. Once that report has been available for 45 days for comment, the next step is a detailed outline of the methods necessary to remove any barriers and make facilities more accessible. A schedule will then be developed to achieve compliance with Title II of the ADA. The schedule will include interim steps to be taken during the transition period. Finally, there needs to be a formal designation of the person responsible for the plan’s implementation.
“The final step is already complete,” Svaby said. “I am the ADA Coordinator for the city. Once the public comment portion of this process completes at end of business on November 30, input and changes received will be taken into consideration. There were over 3,000 physical attributes reviewed. The programmatic things will be the easiest to address, like how do I get my son to soccer or how do I hear about council meetings. More difficult is some of the physical attributes, but, in all honesty, these sometimes work themselves out. Our City Engineer runs streets programs that might show something that needs updated and ADA is already part of the upgrades. It is possible that some of what is shown as a problem may already have been fixed.”
Svaby also explained that having this information would be helpful as they approach budget season each year. He intends to report details to council at least four times each year to apprise them of how the project tis continuing.
Councilman Jason James asked what the majority of the issues were in the 3,000 attributes mentioned.
“What most people bump into with ADA compliance is intersections, curbs and sidewalks,” Svaby said. “There may be some input from those who are disabled and want a presence at this meeting, for example, such as being able to hear it or physically get to the meeting, but those are pretty minimal. The primary input is issues with intersections, curbs and sidewalks.”
Councilwoman Katrina Wilson wanted to know what happens when an intersection or sidewalk is identified, questioning whether the city works with the business who is responsible for the area.
“We have a sidewalk program that is incumbent upon the property owner, but we work that into the highest priority to help the make the area ADA compliant.”
Mayor Archie Campbell pointed to some of the newer developments who were constructing pool, community buildings and clubhouses, asking if they were also required to meet the ADA standards.
“This report is focused on the city’s responsibility, not private property,” Svaby said. “Developers are required to meet ADA requirements and we do work with them somewhat, but primarily this would not have an impact on private construction. In addition, in buildings we own but rent, like the Armory, we are the ones responsible for making that building ADA compliant.”
City Manager Mark Whitfield explained that the ADA is a civil rights act, enforced through the Department of Justice.
“The part of the municipality is to comply with those guidelines, but they also understand we do not have an endless supply of money. As long as we are working toward this transition plan, that is what protects us against any type of lawsuit. If businesses are not doing what they need to be doing, the company could face action. Code enforcement would be used to insure that anything new complies with code.”
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