|North Adams Prioritizing Tasks for ADA Compliance|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
06:40PM / Wednesday, January 11, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Department of Justice has handed the city a list of some 250 things that have to be fixed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some aging structures, such as the police station, are difficult to access.
The DOJ audited the city last year after a complaint was filed over accessibility and the lack of perceived policies regarding handicapped access to public buildings. The comprehensive review looked at all city buildings and institutions except for the schools.
Mayor Richard Alcombright told the City Council on Tuesday that he had received a 24-page report from the DOJ about two weeks ago and he and Building Inspector William Meranti had spoken with the DOJ's Susan Crawford.
"As you know, we have older buildings, older structures, and there's a lot to be done," said the mayor. He said the report listed 10-15 items of varying priority. "Some of those are as easy as a latch doorknob instead of a turn doorknob and some are as drastic as ramping and needing engineering work and contracting."
The mayor said it would take four to six weeks to review the report and to prioritize actions and develop a timeline that could be submitted to the council and the Finance Committee.
The items will be color-coded by green (fix in house for minimal cost); yellow (possibly fixable in house but needing capital outlay); and red (needing significant engineering, structural work and capital outlay).
"They've given most communities up to three years to remediate the situation so we do have some time to do this," said the mayor, who added that the funding would have to be discussed for the next couple budget cycles.
Alcombright said he would have to enter into an agreement with DOJ but there was some room on what exactly would be fixed. Talks will continue with the DOJ on determining what in the report is required and what is suggested.
► The council set annual bonds for the city treasurer/tax collector at $250,000; the assistant treasurer at $62,500 and the city clerk at $15,000, in accordance with state law.
► A communication from Councilor Nancy Bullett on handicapped parking spots was referred to the Traffic Commission.
► The Finance Committee will meet on Jan. 25 and Public Safety on Jan. 26, both at 5 and both in council chambers.
► The council also referred a policy on "bring your own bottle" to the General Government Committee. The mayor had brought the issue to the council early last year but no movement has been made on developing a policy.