Recreation board working for ADA compliance

All changes would cost an estimated $1.9 million
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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A proposed plan to make Auburn parks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act is estimated to cost $1.9 million, but officials are working to address those issues in a more economical fashion.

Pamela Vann, a landscape architect with the Auburn Area Recreation and Park District, has been working with the board of directors and a special ADA compliance committee to develop a transitional plan for the past year.

Vann said the district is required under the law to develop a five-year plan to make its parks ADA compliant and to establish how much those efforts would cost.

Though it is estimated that bringing Auburn's parks up to ADA code would cost $1.9 million, the recreation district's board will consider a more affordable way to go about implementing changes.

Jim Ferris is the lone Auburn Area Recreation District board member serving on the ADA compliance committee, which also includes Vann, District Administrator Kahl Muscott, Administrative Services Manger Joe Fecko, Facilities Maintenance Manager Larry Gray, Placer Independent Resource Services representative Jeff Cowen and Don Wixson as a member of the public.

"The cost of implementing these changes to be totally compliant we realized would cost the district well in excess of a million dollars," Ferris said. "Practically speaking, while this would be desirable, it's not feasible nor is it expected to happen, so the challenge has been establishing priorities."

Ferris added that more should have been done by previous boards to improve some of the district's aging buildings so they meet some of the requirements by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"It is a matter of law that an institution or a business or a government entity needs to provide a transitional plan and the district has perhaps not been as diligent in doing as much every year as it could, but this has been recognized recently and hence the district administrator decided to create this committee," Ferris said.

Vann said it could take 10 or 15 years to make the 10 parks that were surveyed for accessibility issues completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The compliance committee will instead recommend that the board set aside at least $50,000 every year so compliance issues can be corrected.

If that plan is accepted by the board, Vann said extra emphasis will be placed on one park's compliance issues in the first year of the transitional plan until it is brought up to code. Vann would not specifically name that park until after the board approves the compliance plan.

"We're looking at doing more in that first year. There are some high priority projects we're interested in getting done in the first year and after that, because we have such limited funds, we hope to do $50,000 worth of improvement each year," Vann said.

When it comes to prioritizing which projects need addressed, Vann said building access, parking access, restroom access and amenity access in Auburn's parks are all considered first.

Restrooms alone pose a big problem.

"I was looking at a company that builds kit bathrooms and I priced one for Ashford Park and for a bathroom with four stalls, two for men and two for women, all ADA compliant, it's $80,000," Vann said.

At list of compliance issues at Recreation Park includes some elevated restrooms, drinking fountains that don't meet code and narrow entryways to restrooms, among others. The estimated cost of bringing the elevated restrooms up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is about $40,000 alone.

Scott Holbrook, chairman of the Auburn Recreation District Board of Directors, said there have already been some efforts to meet the requirements of the law.

Vann points to the multiple accessibility ramps throughout Recreation Park and then walking path that circles it. There is also an ADA-compliant playground that includes slides that are handicap accessible and a panel that has the alphabet in Braille. Improvements to the gym and the ramp that leads to it have been recently completed.

"We've been working on ADA upgrades for years and I'm proud of the work we've done to meet the needs of the community on a variety of different levels," Holbrook said.

At Ashford Park, there are problems with walking path and bathroom accessibility. Proposed projects there include replacing a bridge and remodeling bathrooms, which are estimated to cost $40,000 each. ADA compliance issues were also surveyed at Regional Park, Meadow Vista Park, Canyon View Community Center, Railhead Park, Overlook Park, Christian Valley Park, Winchester Park and Placer Hills Pool Park.

A separate list of compliance issues was made for each park for those that can be remedied for $1,000 or less. Those include such problems as loose rugs at entryways missing signs in some areas.

The compliancy plan is expected to be brought before the Auburn Recreation District's Board of Directors for approval next month. The board's next meeting will be Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.