North Adams, MA to address ADA Violations
The city of North Adams, Massachusetts has been informed by the US Department of Justice it must address some 300 violations of "the Americans with Disabilities Act" or ADA..
Mayor Dick Alcombright says he got a letter from the DOJ in mid-2010 informing him about the Department's intention to conduct an audit of all city buildings. Alcombright says apparently a disabled person filed a complaint that they were unable to independently enter the city's police department, because it was not handicapped accessible. The mayor says a DOJ team came to the city for 2 days and went through every city-owned park and building.
"Along with any building the city uses for public events. for instance we use our St. Elizabeth's church center for voting so that was something that was included. The YMCA we do some after school programming with the kids at the YMCA."
Alcombright says the DOJ issued a report 8 months later with every item requiring a "fix." He says he doesn't yet know how much the repairs will cost.
"All the door knobs in city hall have to be replaced from typical doorknobs to lever knobs. It's probably 3 thousand or 4 thousand dollars to do that. But then we have toilets, for instance, that are two inches too high, I believe, and we can say, 'ok we can replace those toilets.' But the plumbing goes through the back of the wall rather than through the floor, so now a lot of the infrastructure in the wall has to be changed."
Alcombright says larger more expensive projects are also on the list, including the building of ramps and replacement of doors. He says the city has signed a 3-year agreement with the DOJ. But, he adds, he has been told, if they are making a good faith effort to address the report's concerns -- but don't finish by the deadline -- they'll be able to get an extension. Alcombright says he hopes grant money can be used to pay for the work avoiding the need to drain city coffers. For New England Public Radio, I'm Helen Barrington.