Friday, May 7, 2010

Disabilities forum opens dialogue City leaders discuss sidewalks, ADA rules.

In a first-of-its-kind forum to address issues affecting Columbia’s disabled residents, Mayor Bob McDavid and City Manager Bill Watkins yesterday fielded questions on a variety of topics ranging from sidewalks to Americans with Disabilities Act compliance to a lack of disabled employees in city government.

City leaders hosted the forum at the City Hall Addition. It was the first of four forums scheduled to open dialogue about city programs that affect disabled people.

One of the most vocal participants was Gretchen Maune, a 27-year-old University of Missouri student who is blind and navigates Columbia with the aid of her guide dog, Keeper. Maune said blind people would benefit from the addition of “truncated domes,” or small bumps on the sidewalk, that would warn pedestrians when a curb transitions to the street.

“I don’t want it to take me being hit by a car or one of my friends being hit by a car in order to do something,” she said, adding that she thought the city places too much emphasis on bicycle lanes and ignores pedestrians who must use Columbia’s outdated sidewalks.

“I used to go downtown all the time,” said Maune, who lost her sight three years ago because of a rare degenerative disease, “and I don’t do it now nearly as much because I get scared.”

Watkins said it was the first time he had heard of the truncated dome issue and said if the city prioritizes it, perhaps the domes could be added, but likely not until sidewalks are replaced.

**Watkins said the city is now placing a greater emphasis on sidewalk replacement and noted that sidewalks around Paquin and Walnut streets are in the process of being fixed. These, he said, were prioritized by the city because they were the source of the most complaints.**

Source and More:

** These sidewalks in this section of town are apart of "Phase 1" of the East Side Sidewalk Improvement Plan after a serious case study was done by GetAbloutColumbia in conjunction and through The Disabilities Commission of Columbia through Federal Grant Money on how feasible it would be to repair/replace these sidewalks due to the large concentration of the disabled population with in Columbia. Most complaints my A$$! Mr Watkins obviously needs to attend more meetings and keep better informed.

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