City plans review of handicap access to parks, buildings

Garden Park, in an image posted to Facebook.

Some seven years after the last study concluded that nearly a third of Evanston city facilities didn't meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility rules, city staff will tell aldermen tonight that they're planning to update that report this year.

The 2012 report concluded that 33 of the 107 city facilities failed to meet the standards.

Many of the problems are at city parks. For example, Garden Park, on the lakefront north of Sheridan Square, was cited for not having an accessible route to the play area, non-compliant play area surfaces and non-compliant playground access.

As it happens, Garden Park is scheduled for renovation this year and a meeting to discuss the project plans is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Lincoln School multipurpose room at 910 Forest Ave.

Some neighbors have suggested they want only a low-impact renovation that doesn't change the character of the park.

In a memo to aldemen, Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says the 2012 plan was supposed to have been reviewed every three years, but that hasn't been done until now.

And the memo says the list now is out of date.

Some problems on the list -- such as accessiblity issues at the Robert Crown Community Center -- are being addressed -- with the $53 million construction underway of a new Crown Center.

But others -- including problems at the Harley Clarke mansion -- remain unaddressed.

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Comments

Accessibility

I hope when renovations are made, every building will have one handicap-accessible FAMILY restroom. Some men take care of elderly or handicapped female family members, as well as daughters. Some women assist elderly or handicapped male family members, as well as sons. Think about it: which restroom should be used? People should not have to navigate this sensitive territory every time they enter a City building!

Park renovations

As a former Park Deptartment employee I am well aware of the condition of the parks and playgrounds in Evanston. I doubt many people know the cost of a park and playground renovation can run into several hundred thousand dollars. This is due mainly to make sure the parks are up to modern safety standards and comply with handicap accessibility standards.

Garden Park is one of the older playgrounds in the City. Due to budget constraints there are only so many park upgrades possible in a budget year. The Park Department employees do a great job of maintaining parks and facilities.

Those people that live near Garden park must understand there are safety and Americans With Disability act guidelines that absolutely have to be met to lessen the possibilities of future litigation against the City of Evanston which comes to saving the citizens tax money