December 8, 2013

Report: ADA compliance means $8 million in updates

Logansport sets out to improve access to citizens with disabilities.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Complying with federal accessibility regulations will cost the City of Logansport more than $8 million, according to a recently issued report.

A consulting firm hired this summer by the city researched the cost of aligning with federal regulations and making Logansport public facilities more accommodating for people with disabilities.

Like communities all over the country, the city is taking steps to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990. The civil rights law prohibits discrimination based on disability, part of which concerns ensuring counties, cities and towns provide ways to make public facilities accessible to those in wheelchairs and who have other disabilities.

In July, the city hired Indianapolis-based First Group Engineering Inc. to take inventory of public buildings, sidewalks and parks and draft a plan detailing how the city can make each more ADA compliant. Representatives of the firm recently presented the transition plan to Logansport City Council.

“The good news is that you now have that inventory,” said Dennis Cobb, president of First Group Engineering. “The bad news is it’s about $8 million to fix everything.”

The plan gives a total estimated modifications cost of $8,266,672.

Almost $7 million of that sum is made up of the estimated cost for modifying public rights of way.

ADA compliance can be achieved in several ways, the report states. One suggestion states the city can establish a list and tackle one project at at time based on available funds.

Based on available funding, it is required that the result of any public remodeling, maintenance and repair be ADA compliant, pressing officials to keep that in mind during those kinds of future projects, the report also states.

When the city leases a facility, the new owner takes on the responsibility keeping up with ADA standards, allowing the city to check projects off in that regard as well.

Cobb recommended the city start with areas often accessed by the elderly, like adding or improving sidewalks near nursing homes and pharmacies.

Logansport City Council budgeted $100,000 for ADA projects next year. The council will vote on whether to adopt the ADA transition plan Dec. 16.

Should it be adopted, the council will vote on individual projects based on available funding in 2014.

“Each year we’ll determine how much we can do to get up to code,” said Logansport Community Development Director Chris Armstrong, whose responsibilities include coordinating the city’s ADA compliance efforts.

Armstrong said department heads will also keep her updated on projects they oversee that result in ADA compliance.

She added it will be important to keep up with the ADA’s future updates when considering the available funding and the transition plan as well.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK

ADA compliance estimates for Logansport Public rights of way total estimated cost: $6,986,826 Facilities total estimated cost: $1,279,846 Total estimated modifications cost: $8,266,672 Source: First Group Engineering, Inc.