Jun 21, 2012
CITY ROLLS OUT $80K UPGRADE STUDY FOR STREET CURBS, RAMPS AND INTERSECTIONS; COMPREHENSIVE ACCESSIBILITY PLAN TO BE FUNDED IN FY13 CAPITAL PLAN
Meeting with Staff from Mass. Architectural Access Board Spurs Plan to Add Policy Experts, Key City Officials to Disability Commission
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that the City of Somerville had embarked on an $80,000 study to develop priorities and a long-term schedule to enhance accessibility design compliance for the City’s more than 3,200 pedestrian ramps, sidewalks and intersections. Mayor Curtatone also announced that he would propose the inclusion of funding to support the development of a comprehensive accessibility review and multi-year ADA transition plan for all municipal facilities within the City’s updated capital plan.
After a recent meeting with officials from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB), Curtatone also announced that he would include relevant City officials on the city’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities. “An emerging best practice in disabilities access policy is to put specialists like the City Engineer or a member of the Inspectional Services staff directly onto the Disabilities Commission,” said Curtatone. “We’ve spent millions over the past eight years to improve accessibility with such projects as the Somerville Avenue, Magoun Square and Washington Street reconstruction efforts and in the City Hall ramp rehab and other building upgrades – but achieving compliance is an ongoing challenge.”
“Whenever you build new, or go through a major upgrade, as in the rebuilding of the East Somerville Community School, you have a chance to revisit accessibility codes. In fact, you are required by law to do so,” said Curtatone. “For the rest of our older infrastructure, however – and we have a lot of it – the choices are more complex. With so many demands for both operating and capital dollars, you need to decide how much the City can afford to allocate per year, and what the highest priorities are going to be.”
Curtatone noted that his proposed FY2013 operating budget included funding for two new Capital Projects managers, who would provide project management and oversight for a number of initiatives, including the development of a long-term accessibility plan.
“We had to eliminate the Capital Projects unit in the FY11 Budget, and it remained unfunded last year, but this year we’re in a position to reinstate it, which is a big step forward,” said Curtatone. “It gives us cost-effective, in-house capacity to develop and maintain longer-term projects like accessibility.
The Mayor said that the results of the curb ramp inventory and assessment should be complete by December 31, 2012, and he set a goal for having initial work under way on the facilities assessment plan by August 1, 2012.