Just ahead of a federal mandate that government agencies submit a plan to make their programs and facilities equally accessible to citizens of all abilities, several area municipalities recently completed self-assessments and established transition plans.
Federal law requires all government agencies with 50 or more employees to submit by the end of the year an Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan identifying barriers to access in the entity's programs and facilities. The plans must be in place in order to continue receiving federal funds.
The city of Red Bank will spend an estimated $163,340 to make city buildings, parks and facilities accessible, including entrances, restrooms and all goods and services provided to the public, said City Recorder Ruthie Rohen. Improvements will begin at City Hall, with other facilities prioritized by those most used first.
Funds for the improvements will be spread among the coming years' annual budgets, with a goal of having everything complete by 2029, Rohen said.
The second priority for the city is improving pedestrian accessibility with curb ramps, sidewalks, pedestrian signals and crosswalks. The greatest expenditures will be for pedestrian accessibility improvements on Dayton Boulevard, where $144,550 will be spent to correct sidewalk obstructions, $107,840 for crosswalks, $169,140 for curb ramps and $98,250 for pedestrian crossings.
Over the next 20 years, the total cost of building and facilities upgrades in the city of Soddy-Daisy will be $262,350. Sidewalk improvements for pedestrian accessibility will total an additional $1,707,000 over the next 25 years.
By the end of next year, the city plans to spend $3,700 to make its buildings and facilities more accessible. Projects include making restrooms ADA compliant, installing signs designating accessible van parking at City Hall, and adding an accessible wheelchair space to the courtroom seating. Also included is additional accessible parking and signage at the South Park softball fields, North Park baseball and softball fields, and the Holly Circle Park/boat dock. At North Park, the city will install space among the bleacher seating for wheelchairs and enlarge the accessible toilet room in the girls' bathroom.
The city received grant funds to install an accessible sidewalk leading to the playground area at North Park and a ramp and an accessible ground surface so people of all abilities can access the elevated play station and adjacent swings at the playground.
The town of Signal Mountain plans to spend about $4 million over the next 20 years to improve the accessibility of its facilities and programs.
Planned for the 2019-20 budget year are parking and facility signage, installing TTY telephone systems in public areas, and redesigning the town's website to make it compatible with certain handicap accessible reading devices.
Facilities projects to be completed over the next year include parking lot improvements at the recycling center, and renovations including adjustments to meet ADA requirements at Marion and Driver fields as part of a state grant project that may extend into 2021.
In the 2020-21 budget year, the town plans to make renovations to improve accessibility and restroom facilities at Town Hall, and accessibility at the town gym, pool, guild room, playgrounds, parks and ballfields.
Between 2021 and 2024, the town will make the front entrance of the Mountain Arts Community Center ADA compliant, along with the police and fire stations, library and town water department. The town will also continue renovations to the town pool, parks and ballfields.
The estimated cost for building facilities upgrades is $810,000, to be split among each year's respective budget.
Rebuilding the sidewalks in the Old Town neighborhood is the first priority for improvements to the town's pedestrian infrastructure. The town was awarded a grant for the project, which is currently being reviewed by the state. That project is scheduled to be complete within the next five years, along with installing curb ramps in high-traffic areas. The estimated cost of those projects is $3,075,000. The cost will be split up over the next five years, with $515,000 budgeted for each of the next two years and the remaining $2,045,000 split between 2021-22 and 2023-24.
The town plans to add curb ramps throughout its overall sidewalk system within the next 10 years, as well as add "passing lanes" to existing sidewalks less than 5 feet wide, for a cost of $75,000.
Over the next 20 years, the town will work to eliminate any dead-end sidewalks to improve connectivity, at an estimated cost of $150,000.
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