City needs ADA updates

It’s time to make structural changes on city properties to accommodate all Lancaster residents, said Robert Moody, senior planner of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments (COG).

The COG provided technical assistance to the city’s Building and Zoning Department and presented a report at the Nov. 26 Lancaster City Council meeting.

The city’s Americans with Disabilities Act plan is not up to date and/or appropriate and needs an update, Moody told the council. This is a required measure because the city receives federal funding, he said.

The city must complete a self-evaluation to identify deficiencies in its plan. Most are due to the age of the buildings and when they were built, Moody said.

“The transition plan shows minor changes are needed,” he said. “We will incur costs, but not significant. There is no hard, fast time frame to make the changes.”

In a report to council, the city’s Building and Zoning Department provided information about the ADA transition plan, the self-evaluation plan and the ADA grievance policy.

“With the signing of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on July 26, 1990, local governments were required to conduct a self-evaluation and develop a transition plan designed to identify and remove physical barriers to programs and services provided by local government,” the report said. “The city committed to the ADA by adopting a transition plan in February of 1995 and with assistance from the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, the city’s self-evaluation plan was adopted in November of 1997.”

The report said a recent visit from the Department of Commerce for the city’s streetscape grant revealed the ADA transition and self-evaluation plans were in need of an update since being completed in 1995 and not modified since that time.

The council was asked to review and approve the modified plans and a resolution to maintain pending and future grants.

The ADA transition plan includes less than 10 sites where modifications and upgrades are to be made to city properties. At the Springs House and wastewater treatment plant, door hardware is needed for doors not equipped to be operated with one hand.

At Fire Station 1 and the Municipal Justice Center, sections of a service counter need to be lowered to accommodate customers and a clipboard must be added for customer use.

Other adjustments include lowering mirrors in restrooms, adding a cup dispenser where a water fountain is more than 44 inches above the floor and adding Braille signs.

Most repairs are $50 to $100. The most expensive repair is estimated to be $500 to repair a curb ramp at the wastewater treatment plant. All changes in the plan will occur over the next two years.

Helen Sowell, city administrator, shared the primary reason for the completion of the ADA self-evaluation.

“We hope to prevent a citizen’s complaint,” she told the council. “The last complaint was filed about eight years ago.”

By Christopher Sardelli, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News