By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Author Write
Photo by / Dakota Antelman
Southborough Town House overlooks Main Street.
SOUTHBOROUGH – The Southborough Board of Selectmen reviewed a draft document that on July 13 identified areas of non-compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in city buildings, locations and recreational areas.
The 202-page Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan was drawn up by the Central MA Regional Planning Commission, Center for Living and Working, Inc. in Worcester and advisor James M. Mazik of Holyoke.
Mazik said that all construction solutions must be designed by a qualified engineer and architect. He outlined for the board how the projects could be broken down in relation to the immediate projects this year and next. Short-term projects would be completed between 2023 and 2026, long-term projects between 2027 and 2030.
He said the city must demonstrate “in good faith” that it is addressing the areas of non-compliance and “show movement” of the plan.
Additionally, Mazik said that not all solutions are “cost-based” and that changes to infrastructure are required. For example, a program offered on the second floor of a building could be moved to the first level to allow access for people with disabilities.
It is crucial to have “reasonable accommodation and honest efforts,” he said.
The consultant spoke about issues such as obstruction of sidewalks and curb ramps, damaged or overgrown sidewalks that create a barrier, defects in bathrooms and facilities such as stable doors and counters that are not closing, insufficient signage and park widths, protruding objects that prevent a Pose a danger, as well as the need to provide walkways to buildings and playgrounds with a solid, stable and non-slip surface.
Mazik emphasized that the city could get some of the simpler and cheaper solutions out of the way first.
Other areas of the report highlighted how, among other things, how to write non-discriminatory job descriptions, arrange for emergency preparedness and notification, and ensure that all polling stations are accessible and provide privacy.
“It’s a big deal and thank you all for having it on our radar,” said Selectman Martin Healey. He noted that he wasn’t deterred that a price tag could be in the range of $ 750,000.
Over the years the city has spent so much money “on things that are not so valuable”.
Healey said he was in favor of working aggressively on projects and speeding up the process as much as possible.
City administrator Mark Purple, who is Southborough’s ADA coordinator, said the city could take a look Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD), Complete Streets, Community Preservation, and other grants to help with funding.
Board of Selectmen chairwoman Lisa Braccio said they would work closely with the city’s ADA committee to prioritize the work needed. While improvements are being made to the school, the boards could begin until the plan is completed.
Healey noted that those selected may also be able to prepare an arrest warrant article asking for funding at the city’s annual meeting in 2022.
Connor Robichaud, CMRPC Regional Project Coordinator, and Michael Kennedy, Center for Living and Working representative, attended the presentation.
Kennedy tried several times to discuss the report and give a presentation. But audio problems prevented chosen ones from hearing him. Then he transferred Mazik.
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