Kettering could spend $3M improving compliance for people with disabilities

City officials have started work to improve compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) after a consultant’s report that found Kettering had potentially thousands of issues that needed to be addressed.

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City Manager Mark Schwieterman said that the city has been working to make sure that Kettering is in compliance with the ADA laws and has implemented the “Lean Towards Yes” campaign — a transition plan designed to fix non-compliance issues with the federal law.

“We make sure that we are leaning towards ‘yes’ when we are asked by residents, ‘Can I do this in the city of Kettering?’” he said about situations that require an ADA modification.

“We have an estimate from the consultant, which is about $3 million for all of the things that they found, and I think there was about 4,000 things that need to be fixed. Some of them are significant, and some of them are very minor,” Schwieterman said.

The WT Group — an engineering, design and consulting company — was hired by the city in 2017 to study what Kettering could do to improve its compliance with the ADA.

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The WT Group inspected 47 sites in Kettering and found that “44,000 access elements were done right, and there are approximately 4,400 deficits.”

City staff has worked on prioritization of the transition plan since the first quarter of 2018.

“We hired the consultant to come in and help us with that process, and they put together a transition plan for us, so we could start implementing that plan,” Schwieterman said. “So, we now have a plan and currently city staff is working on the prioritization of the plan to make sure that our future budgets and all of our designs incorporate all of what we’ve learned.”

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In 2018, Kettering hired ADA Inclusion and Compliance manager Anna Breidenbach to follow up on the improvements suggested by the consultant to become ADA compliant.

“She is also responsible for working with and training our staff on how to make correct decisions regarding requests,” Schwieterman said. “So, if you come into the Rec Center and want to sign up for a class, but you need something to do it, Anna will meet with you or your family and come up with a solution and provide you with that opportunity to participate.”

The issues being addressed range from having a proper turning radius for a wheelchair in city buildings to making sure that the height of a counter in a bathroom is correct.

A grandparent of a child has met with Breidenbach to arrange modifications for summer camp programs.

“My granddaughter absolutely loved CSI camp. She looked forward to going to camp every day,” said Cheryl Yeager. “Having handicapped transportation was fantastic. She can’t wait to turn 14 so she can volunteer.”

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The costs to address both the large and small issues for ADA compliance, according to Schwieterman, are built into the city’s budget.

“We have a 5-year capital improvement budget,” he said. “So, when our Engineering Department says, ‘We are going to repave section A of neighborhood B in 3 years,’ when they complete the plans for that, they will use this transition plan to ensure that all the areas of the transition plan are covered when we do that project.”

“When we remodel a bathroom, we have to make sure it is an accessible height and it is within the guidelines of the Department of Justice,” Schwieterman said. “Curb cuts and ramps are major issues. Making sure that they are at the right slope and grade.”

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