The nation recently marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While reviewing an audit of risk factors at the playground at the City Park, including ADA non-compliance, City Manager Shauna Clark said to the City Council at the August 12th Special Meeting, "It's clear we are not exactly an ADA city. We don't have the funds and we don't have a driving demand for that." (reference - 8/12/10 Special City Council meeting at 27:44)
The report cited safety hazards needing correcting, such as lack of fencing around the playground, and non-compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of the existing playground equipment at the tot lot for accessibility of disabled children.
Tot Lot at City Park
The City Council was discussing how to apportion $159,000 in Grant funds. Using Grant money for fixing ADA issues in the tot lot, so that it would be accessible to children with disabilities, would have eliminated installing a horse warm-up arena, or using General Fund reserves to make up the difference.
The City Park currently has a Show Arena and a smaller ring.
The risk manager from the City's Insurance Company recommended fixing safety problems and ADA deficiencies to reduce the City's liability exposure, saying they are seeing more ADA lawsuits against cities. (43:00 at Special Meeting)
At that night's Regular Council Meeting, the Staff reported that the City was hit with a $266, 821 retroactive insurance pool payment and annual insurance cost increase of $27,000 due to an increase in City claims. In 2009, a liability lawsuit against the City had a $375,000 payout by the City's insurance company.
Faith Grimm, from the Parks and Rec Commission, recommended the horse warm-up arena be built, and putting the tot lot ADA on the unfunded capital improvement list.
Councilmember Westerhoff said about the tot lot ADA non-compliance, "It's difficult for me to see making that a priority." and "For practical and theoretical reasons it's difficult for me to put it above other things Parks and Rec are recommending." (Reference - Special Meeting 8/12/10 at 32:45)
The City Council voted 4-0 (Bergman absent) to move ahead with the warm up arena for horses, a new older-kids play area, and fixing safety issues noted in the audit, leaving the ADA compliance of the tot lot playground equipment for the future.
U.S. Department of Justice says City Must Comply
When queried about a City choosing not to comply with ADA, the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Specialist said that all cities and towns are required to comply with ADA.
The ADA applies to the City because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
Other Recent Council Actions Against Kids at the Park
Last year, the City Council banned bicycles, skateboards and scooters from the Park's paved areas and sidewalks.
Earlier this year, the City used Federal stimulus money to improve Golf Cart paths on East Rd., while adding additional obstacles to Pedestrian crossings at the traffic signals on Hacienda Rd at East Rd and Skyline Dr. Those intersections did not comply with ADA, and Federal Stimulus guidelines suggest they could have been made more accessible with Stimulus money.
Golf Cart Path Fixed with Federal Stimulus Funds
Another Golf Cart Path Fixed with Federal Stimulus Funds
Stimulus Funds used to create new Obstacles for Pedestrians at Park
Hacienda Rd & Skyline Dr Pedestrian Crossing has new obstacles blocking access to Pedestrian Walk Button.
During large events, able-bodied visitors to the Park are seen stumbling or sliding on the now steeper slope and curb when crossing to or from East Rd.
ADA accessible doors to the Multi-Purpose Room have been non-functional for a number of years.