By Abi Cole
Weaverville – The Town of Weaverville passed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan last Monday evening (June 22) at the town council meeting to increase physical accessibility to municipal facilities, programs, activities, and services.
The “…general purpose of this plan is to ensure that all citizens” (no matter their physical limitations) “have access to municipal facilities, programs, activities and services.” The plan was prepared by WithersRevenel of Asheville. The transition plan has four key parts:
1. Identify physical obstacles
2. Identify methods to remove barriers
3. Specify a schedule to take necessary steps to achieve compliance
4. Indicate the official responsible for carrying out the plan.
The Town of Weaverville will evaluate municipal facilities, including the Town Hall and Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works Department, Water Treatment Plant, Lake Louise Park, and the Main Street Nature Park. A field crew will assess the town’s facilities and identify any non-compliance with ADA. The town council assured that these facilities contain few barriers to accessibility, and “many items identified by field crew would be considered simple changes that can be fixed relatively quickly and at nominal costs.” Many accessibility failures already identified are small, simple changes. Coat hooks and water fountains are too high in many municipal buildings. Accessible parking and ramp installation may prove to be larger money and time-consuming projects.
Lake Louise Park may see the most changes from the implementation. The park’s bathrooms are both “antiquated and not fully accessible,” and will be demolished. Construction of new ADA compliant bathrooms are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. In recent months, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission installed an accessible fishing pier at the southern end of Lake Louise. The Town followed by adding an accessible parking stall to the adjacent lot. “This pier represents a forward-thinking approach to recreational equality,” says the town council.
The Main Street Nature Park will see no changes. The town council maintains that the park’s natural slope and unpaved paths cultivate a natural environment. The park’s intention is to protect the area’s wildlife, and so it is exempt from accessibility regulations.
Weaverville’s pedestrian network is the most apparent and expensive issue. In an assessment of the town’s sidewalk curbs, 94 of 146 locations failed the ADA inspection. Common violations are narrow pathways, lack detectable warning domes, and have a cross slope greater than two percent. Cross and sidewalk requirements have evolved drastically over the years to increase accessibility—this leaves many Weaverville sidewalks outdated by decades. “What was considered a best practice in 1990 is not the same as today,” says the town council. The project has a five-year time period, but the council plans for ongoing inspection and improvement in later years to prevent outdated facilities.
About 62% of accessibility projects will cost less than one thousand dollars. Every project will cost less than ten-thousand, with the most expensive projects largely pertaining to accessible parking and ramp installation. Citizen request funds are set aside for specific requests that may arise.
For any further questions or to report an ADA in-compliance, email ADA Coordinator Jennifer Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org