Saturday, September 20, 2014

Projects to aid those with disabilities getting new push

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 12/28/2012

Local residents will see a focus on making sure public facilities and city intersections are ADA compliant in 2013.

Ottawa city commissioners are expected to consider adopting an ordinance at their meeting Wednesday that would establish an Americans with Disabilities Act advisory board in the coming weeks to prioritize such ADA improvement projects.

Local residents will see a focus on making sure public facilities and city intersections are ADA compliant in 2013.

Ottawa city commissioners are expected to consider adopting an ordinance at their meeting Wednesday that would establish an Americans with Disabilities Act advisory board in the coming weeks to prioritize such ADA improvement projects.

“We want to make sure we are ADA compliant at all of our public facilities, and we are upgrading intersections around town to make them ADA compliant as well,” Nienstedt said in a recent interview. “There are small things most people don’t think about, like knobs on doors. A community needs to be accessible to everyone.”

On Thursday, Nienstedt and city commissioners went over the provisions of the ordinance during a special study session, which took the place of the commission’s regularly scheduled Monday study session on New Year’s Eve, which has been canceled. City offices will be closed Tuesday in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.

The city ordinance would establish a nine-member ADA advisory board to be appointed by the mayor, with the consent of the governing body. The board is to include at least five members who meet one of these four criteria: have a disability; have experience working in the disability services field; have direct personal experience with those who are disabled, such as a family member or friend, or have experience in the “technical aspect of accessibility issues.”

The board would be charged with performing the following tasks:

• Advise and make recommendations to the city commission on matters related to accessibility.

• Evaluate projects and activities, both public and private, and to advise city staff on matters related to accessibility.

• Provide technical assistance to the city on matters related to the disabled population.

• Review city plans for projects prior to implementation.

• Serve as advocates for residents with disabilities.

• Serve as resources on policy and/or procedure for members of the city commission and for city staff.

• Review federal and state regulations and guidelines on accessibility and to report its findings to the appropriate city department, division or body.Nienstedt told commissioners Thursday city staff already had approached a couple of people to gauge their interest in serving on the board and would be talking with others in the future.

Persons interested in serving on the board should call Leslie Quillen, executive assistant to the city manager, at (785) 229-3637.

Doug Carder is senior writer with The Herald. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald.com

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