LS parks audits for accessibility

rpulley@lsjournal.comJuly 2, 2014 

Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation has started inspections of all its facilities to make sure they meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

So far, audits have been finished for Harris Park Community Center and Summit Waves, Charles David Hartman Memorial Park, and Gamber Center, which were completed earlier this year. Consultants the department hired to scrutinize facilities for ADA deficiencies did the audits.

The audits so far have found issues that might not be readily apparent to the average person, such as the water fountain at Hartman Park being undetectable for a blind person, so the consultant’s recommendation is installing a tactile device that can be felt with a cane.

Tom Lovell, parks administrator, said the department is very conscious of the regulations and works to upgrade facilities to stay in compliance.

In 2009, it spent about $40,000 to replace drains in the city pool to meet regulations that became law after a young girl drowned because she was trapped in suction of a hot tub drain.

Lovell said many upgrades to Lee’s Summit parks will occur gradually as the department does regular maintenance or renovations of parks or replacing equipment.

“You wouldn’t rip it out unless it’s hazardous,” Lovell said.

Facilities were designed to meet standards in place at the time they were built, Lovell said, but the regulations have been rewritten several times since the ADA was passed in 1990.

Some need slight changes, such as Gamber Center, where the consultant suggested different counter tops so people can easily reach drinks such as coffee or tea and painting hash marks for the handicapped accessible van parking space.

The consultant doing the audit of Harris Park, where Summit Waves is located, also suggested a second parking spot for disabled accessible van that could be entered from the passenger side. Overall Harris Park Community Center is “very accessible” the auditor said.

At Hartman Park the consultant’s report said the department should add a van accessible parking space at the concession stand, marking it with signs and also install signs at the north park entrance to indicate the parking at the building. Some of the slopes for sidewalks are too steep and will need regrading during future renovations.

The audit also suggested at least one table with a longer end for accessibility. The position of sinks could interfere with someone using a mobility device in the restrooms which should be corrected with the next remodel, the consultant said.

The city hasn’t yet priced any repairs or renovations, it’s waiting until it has a full understanding of the scope of the issue.

The audit was the first step, then as equipment and buildings go through their “life cycle,” the department will incorporate fixing any deficits into the upgrades.

David Dean, superintendent of Recreation Services who has been overseeing the audits, said the department became aware of the issue at national conferences.

“It’s going to be costly, you have to find where the money is coming from to pay for it,” Dean said.

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