george1

George

Lakewood residents will have an opportunity to help the city improve accessibility in publicly owned buildings.

City officials are organizing a volunteer group to help formulate a master plan to improve ADA compliance. Called the Americans with Disabilities Task Force, the group will present its findings to city officials by the end of 2021.

“The mission of the task force will be to enact a citywide plan to oversee the upgrade and compliance of city properties and facilities and to identify properties, buildings and facilities that require upgrades to become ADA compliant,” said Mayor Meghan George, who proposed the group during a council meeting Sept. 21.

The group will take inventory of city-owned properties, including the interiors of buildings, sidewalks and parks to determine where work needs to be done, said Chief Assistant Law Director Jennifer Swallow.

“Once the master plan is completed, we will use it to make future improvements,” she said. However, there is no set timeline when improvements have to be made, she added.

The selection process for the group will begin next month. Seven Lakewood residents will be chosen by the mayor and City Council based on their knowledge of ADA laws or experience with a disability. Applications for the group will be posted to the city’s website next month. George hopes the group will be formed by the end of November.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires public agencies to have a plan for making their properties ADA compliant and update it regularly, according to Ohio’s Local Technical Assistance Program. George and Swallow began working on this project earlier this year when it was discovered the city didn’t have an ADA transition plan in place.

“Looking back at records, we were not able to find our plan so we decided we would start from scratch and form a new one,” Swallow said. “That’s not to say we never had one, we just weren’t able to locate ours.”

George believes the community-led project is crucial to the city’s development.

“It’s important that we get our citizens active in what’s being done around the city,” she said. “We really do rely on their input to make improvements.”

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 216-307-6614.

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