Pullman moves to make parks ADA accessible following report
Six major city parks found to be noncompliant
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2015 12:00 am
By Josh Babcock, Daily News staff writer
Pullman Parks and Recreation is working to bring the city’s six largest public parks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mark Leeper, executive director of the Disability Action Center, said a survey by DAC Northwest found Kruegel Park, McGee Park, Military Hill Park, Reaney Park, Sunnyside Park and Terre View Park to not be in compliance with the standards.
While “Moscow has been on the forefront” of ADA accessibility, Leeper said, “it’s kind of gotten lost” in Pullman.
Leeper said some common problems he sees in Pullman parks are inaccessible restrooms, broken or uneven sidewalks, pathways with large gaps, lack of parking for those with disabilities and steep slopes.
“You can’t enjoy the parks unless you can get access to things around and in those parks,” Leeper said.
Leeper said parks like Sunnyside and Reaney that host special events like the National Lentil Festival and Pullman’s July Fourth celebration may exclude disabled persons in the community because they are not up to ADA code.
Leeper said the city has made progress in meeting ADA standards, like installing ADA accessible restroom facilities at Sunnyside Park, however, disabled persons are still unable to access those facilities due to the gaps in the pathways that lead to the facilities and the incline of the paths.
Despite being constructed in the late ’90s and well after the introduction of the ADA, Terre View Park also fails to meet the act’s requirements. Leeper said due to the incline and unevenness of the pathway from the parking lot, the park is not accessible to those with walkers or wheelchairs. She said even if a disabled person was able to climb the hill to the park, the playground equipment is surrounded by a rubberized barricade to keep bark chips from spreading throughout the park, which blocks access for those with disabilities. The barricade excludes children with disabilities who want to access the playground or parents with disabilities from reaching their children at the playground, Leeper said.
Across the border, the city of Moscow was recently recognized by the DAC for the accessibility of its parks, she pointed out, adding that four of the city’s eight parks are up to ADA code.
Leeper and Alan Davis, Pullman Parks and Recreation manager, agree the hills in Pullman make it difficult for the city’s parks to comply with ADA rules, and the Pullman City Council recently authorized a $19,000 mapping project by Design West architects to find resolutions to make those parks accessible.
Davis said construction to make Reaney Park up to ADA standards is already underway. Entranceways to the park, parking spaces, flat concrete paths allowing access to picnic tables and benches, and roll-in access to Reaney Park Pool’s new splash pad are a few additions to bring the park up to ADA code, Davis said.
Changes to other parks will be implemented following the completion of Design West’s mapping project.
In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and, among other things, guarantees access for the disabled to public accommodations, including parks. According to the act, cities had until July 1992 to form a transition plan to begin making parks more accessible over time, while parks constructed after the act are required to meet ADA standards.
Josh Babcock can be reached at (208) 883-4630, or by email to email@example.com.