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10-20-1998 t 1 ADA Advisory Board Meeting Minutes October 20, 1998 Board Members Present: Bob Evans, Larry Sharp, Yolanda Thompson, Andrea Peters, and Kathe Stark Board Member Absent: Caesar Rodriguez, Ramon Armendariz, and Tomas Mendez Others Present: Patrick Maestas and Minerva Garcia INTRODUCTIONS Absent Ramon Armendariz,the Chair, Kathe convened the meeting at 4:05 p.m. Kathe had asked board members to consider this a general work session to discuss where the board wants to go,where it sees itself and how it can best assist the City with its ADA compliance efforts. Yolanda asked how the Council and the Mayor view the ADA Advisory Board. Kathe reported that the Municipal Code governing the board, which was enacted by the City Council, speaks to this issue. The Advisory Board was established to advise the Council on issues through which to improve the lives of persons with disabilities within the community. Andrea then questioned the tone of the comments made in February, where the disability community was referred to as those ADA people. Kathe explained to the board the incident which occurred prior to her coming aboard as ADA Coordinator. A small group of advocates in the community appeared at City Hall unannounced with press in hand,buttons, and plackets to protest what they saw as lack of progress within the City on ADA and disability issues. They met with the Mayor who asked if any of them had ever called him prior to this protest being staged to raise their issues in a professional manner. All of those present admitted that they had not made the attempt to speak with him personally. This was a very difficult situation for the Mayor to be put in,with no prior warning,with no one having shown basic respect of raising issues with him personally and providing him with an opportunity to address their issues in a much more respectful and professional forum. Larry Sharp asked whether or not the committee could again pursue having a work session presentation with the City Council to: 1)Explain the scope of the Americans with Disability Act, both the spirit and the letter of the law; and 2) To establish themselves with the City Council as a group of individuals who truly do want to assist the City with compliance,not adversaries. For the benefit of the two new board members, Larry recounted that both he and Caesar had meet with the City Manager and the Mayor in early September to request a work session with the Council. At that point, with City's focus on the Bond Election, both the Mayor and the Manager requested the assistance of the ADA Advisory Board to support the Bond Issue. The opportunity to meet with the Council in some forum, possibly a work session, was not denied at that point. Subsequent to that meeting, the Advisory Board did write a letter of support on the Bond Issue which was published in the Sun News and they added their names to the list of supporters which published three times in the Sun News by the Persons for a Better Las Cruces Bond Committee and Caesar Rodriguez particated in a number of neighborhood meetings along with Kathe to educate the public about the ADA portions of the Bond Issue. Larry added that it may be appropriate at this point to revisit with the Mayor and the Manager and to again request a work session to establish an ongoing relationship with the City Council and fulfill their role as an advisory body to that Council. Larry suggested that both Ramon, as Chair, and Larry, as Co-Chair, request a meeting with the Manager and the Mayor to pursue a work session with the Council or to invite members of the Council to attend the ADA Advisory Meetings. Kathe explained that in a work session the members of the general public present do not have an opportunity for input, where at the ADA Advisory Board, members of the public would have an opportunity for input. Given the past history, specifically the protest and some subsequent actions by some advocates, it maybe more comfortable for all persons, to meet with the Council in a work session versus inviting them to the Advisory Board. It was asked if the Mayor could be invited to the next Advisory Board. Kathe reported an invitation was extended to the Mayor previously who was willing to attend the meeting, but it is important to understand that the Mayor is one member of the City Council and,as he said in his response to the invitation,could only speak for himself and not for the entire City Council. Larry stated he would be very happy to meet again with the Mayor and the Manager along with Ramon to pursue this idea. The objective for the Advisory Board is to play a very active role in advising the City on it's ADA compliance issues, much in the same way the Advisory Board assisted in the prioritization of structural barrier removal in City facilities when the transition plan was put together earlier this year. Larry asked about how the City prioritized different types of situations that concerned ADA, reporting on how he catagorizes ADA issues within a campus setting. Kathe stated that the scope of ADA within the City is definitely very far reaching. There are program access issues, some of which are addressed directly within the individual departments. For example for in the Library there are general circulation services and also special events and programs in which the Library participates in. Kathe will provide the Advisory Committee a list of the different City Departments and their involvement in ADA compliance. As discussed at previous meeting, the City would very much like the involvement of the Advisory Board in prioritizing more,particularly in the sidewalk area. Kathe reminded the committee that when she first arrived the focus of those who were vocal in the disability community on sidewalk priorities was that work be completed on the perimeter sidewalks of the Downtown Mall. Initial work was begun by the Streets and Traffic Engineering Department. However, they were reassigned from that project to the Community of Hope Project and have not returned to the Downtown Mall. Recently,we have a series of wheelchair accidents on the west end of Idaho. With the absence of a meeting last month due to lack of attendance,Kathe called Larry Sharp and also Steve Brown at Southern New Mexico Center for Independent Living, to discuss putting the Downtown Mall on hold in order to take care of the health and safety issue that exists on Idaho. Both, Steve and Larry concurred with Kathe to request the Development Services Division, the Streets and Traffic Department, to postpone the work at the Downtown Mall and address the issues of a safe path of travel on Idaho. This work will allow the six persons in wheelchairs that live in that area to safely get to their destinations. During the effort to get those crews assigned to get to do that work,the Development Services Division Director asked whether or not putting the Downtown Mall as a lesser priority and moving on to the Idaho was the consensus of the disability community and whether their spokesperson had agreed to such an action. Kathe advised the Division Director that: 1. There is not a cohesive disability community within the City of Las Cruces, there are many individuals with many opinions and needs and 2. There is not any single spokesperson. Larry stated that it is important that City staff and City Council understand that persons with disability are not of one type nor with one need and asked whether or not there has ever been a spokesperson. Kathe went back to the meeting with the Mayor that occurred prior to her arrival. At that point there was a definite spokesperson,representing a small portion of the disability community. However, she is in full agreement with Larry's comment and tries to emphasize in training that persons with disabilities in this community or any community are individuals first with different opinions and needs and relayed that same information to the Development Services Division Director stating that she would take responsibility for the change in priorities. Kathe emphasized a desire for the input of this Advisory Board in prioritizing sidewalk projects while remaining flexible to respond to emergency health and safety needs. This has been discussed somewhat at a previous meeting. Bob asked who was the department or company that did the work at the Community of Hope because the concrete was laid down,it was tore up,then it was laid down again. He noted it was still not done correctly or in accordance with ADA Regulations. Kathe advised the board the work was done by the Streets and Traffic Department. That department has a group of concrete workers who were specifically developed to handle small concrete projects and emergency barrier removals and curb ramps. There continue to be some problems with some of the work which is being done out of that area. Bob asked whether or not the plans for all such work is reviewed by the ADA office. Kathe responded that no, they are not. The Streets and Traffic Department does work with the Engineering forms for concrete curb ramp that have been built, however, there still appear to be problems at times with the work. Kathe pointed to the curb ramp on Las Cruces and Church which wind around the series of obstacles. While it meets the letter of the law for slope and wide, the amount of curvature around those obstacles creates a significant barrier and a number of persons who use wheelchairs have literately gotten stuck in that area. Yolanda asked the board if they could write a resolution on how to handle different types of ADA situations,to include the review of all plans by the ADA Coordinator for such work. Kathe reported that when the Engineering Department does road work that includes sidewalks, they develop very good specifications,and have a good handle on ADA Regulations for curb ramps and sidewalks and the work is done in compliance. Kathe has very little need to review those plans. However, it may be beneficial for the Advisory Board to look at how to better handle the projects which are done by the Streets and Traffic Department to insure the work does not have to be repeated. Bob asked what type of plan reviews are currently being conducted by the ADA Office. Kathe reported that all architectural work developed by the City Architect for City facilities is being reviewed by the ADA Coordinator as well as other departments who have a need to see the plans prior to construction. Kathe also monitors that construction along with the City Architect and the Facility Manager of whichever building is being renovated. In addition, Kathe reported that she has become more involved with review of plans with the Planning Department, particularly in the area of medical facilities due to problems which were not recognized prior to construction of a new medical facility recently built. The Planning Department has also been participating every other week in accessibility training with the ADA Coordinator and positive results have already been seen in their plan review as a result of those training sessions. Kathe noted,however,that her time is limited with the full scope of ADA and would be reluctant that this point to get to involved in other private developments which are going on within the City. If the inspectors or the plan reviewers do have questions when they are reviewing a plan, she does make herself available to provide technical assistance. Another issue of difficulty raised by the committee, involves alteration work in the public right-of- way which includes the relocation of traffic devices located within the sidewalk at corners. Frequently,the City may not have the right-of-way to move that traffic devices out of the sidewalk and directly back at the corner location. As a result, the traffic devices get relocated down the sidewalk some number of feet and along with the device the pedestrian crossing button is located down the sidewalk. This action causes significant difficulty for persons who are blind or with visual impairments who can locate the corner using their cane by finding the edge of the curb ramp, but then swing their arms around behind them trying to locate the traffic control device to press the pedestrian walk button when in fact the device may be ten or fifteen feet down the sidewalk. Yolanda agreed, whole heartedly, that is causes a tremendous difficulty for persons who are blind because they are unable to find the control device where is it typically located. Kathe reported on a conversation she had with the Development Services Director and the Director of Streets and Traffic Engineering suggesting that when the right-of-way does not exists directly behind the sidewalk at the corner and the traffic device does need to be moved, that the device be moved but a pole with a pedestrian walk button be placed directly behind the sidewalk at the corner. At a minimum, someone with a visual impairment would be able to use the pedestrian walk button in a location in which they are accustomed to finding it. Development Services Division responsed that it is a matter of cost, an additional pole would be more expensive. Kathe noted that it would be better to do less relocation of traffic control devices if financing does not allow the increased cost, but to do it in such a way that all members of the community, including those who are blind,can use them and avoid another barrier being created. Yolanda asked if the committee could write up a resolution with a design standard and present that to the Council and ask for adoption and direction to staff to place a pedestrian call pole directly behind the sidewalk at a corner to remedy the current situation. Kathe stated the committee could think of what that resolution would look like,what kind of technical requirements would be required of the pole, and continue this discussion. Yolanda also asked if the Board would consider writing a resolution on how to handle different types of ADA situations as they may pertain to Streets and Traffic Engineering to remedy past problems which have existed. This would include a review of plans by the ADA Coordinator, at a minimum, to ensure that curb ramps that become barriers around obstacles are not installed. Larry asked what the current mechanism is when an emergency barrier removal need arises such as that on Idaho, for securing the funding to get that work done. Kathe reported that in those situations she goes to the Division Director of Development Services and tries to ascertain if funding is available, either in Engineering or in the Streets Department, to complete such work. This sometimes creates a difficulity in responding to the resident who raises the issue. Experience has been that a commitment is made to get work done at a certain time,the resident is advised of that timeline, and months later the work is still not completed. Kathe reported that last fall, in a meeting with her Division Director, the Chief Engineering and the Development Services Director, she posed the suggestion that some ADA money requested in the budget process be set up as an emergency barrier fund. That money could be used at the discretion of the ADA Coordinator,who could then ask staff to complete work and give the resident an accurate answer that there were funds available and when that work could be completed. Bob Evans stated that with the Federal Government, a sort of open purchase order is established with a contractor which can be used throughout the year for small projects, like this and questioned whether or not that was possible within the City. Kathe reported that she was uncertain,but would ask the question and report back to the Board. Kathe also stated that an emergency barrier removal fund of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) was set up each year in the state of Minnesota,specifically to address emergency needs. She stated that while fifty thousand dollars($50,000)covered an entire state of two hundred(200) agencies,the sum of money for the City of Las Cruces would not need to be near as great. Larry inquired if twenty thousand($20,000) per year would be more then enough to handle emergency situations. Kathe reported that she felt that it would be more enough. The money could be set aside and if it is not used, for example by May 1 st,the money could be used for ongoing projects involving sidewalks through the Engineering Department. Kathe asked the Board if they would also like to consider their role and advising the Council when an individual resident brings up an issue or a request to staff and ultimately makes that request of a Council member. In a recent situation,the request was denied after being investigated by staff and the resident went to a City Council member, who directed staff to complete the work. Larry asked whether or not the Advisory Board could assist the Council in a way of listening and responding to such requests. A Council person could request the resident to come before the Advisory Board and present their case. The Advisory Board could then advise the Council whether they thought this situation was one which should move forward. Kathe stated this may be a way to assist the Council and may be something that the Board wants to discuss further and bring up with the Council for their input. Yolanda stated that the Board needs to focus on ways in which it can assist the Council and work with the City. It would be helpful if the Council and the Mayor would be able to see that the Board only wishes to have a positive impact on the City and to help the City with ADA complaince efforts. Larry and Yolanda asked if a copy of the Advisory Board Minutes are currently given to the City Council and the Mayor to keep them apprised of what their meetings consist of and what their main concerns are. Kathe reported she was uncertain if the report went to the Council and the Mayor, however, it is available to them in the City Clerk's Office. Copies of the ADA Advisory Board Minutes do go to the City Manager. Yolanda and Larry asked if Board Meeting minutes could be sent to the Council. Kathe will get an answer for the Advisory Board prior to next month. Bob stated that he was dissatified with the answer the Board was given by City staff to the inquiry made about the intersection of North Main and Telshor and Del Rey,where there are curb ramps on the south side of the road which is developed with IHOP and the Howie's Service Station and yet, when the development went in for the Lucky's SavOn Store and other merchants, curb ramps were not put in on the north side of the lot. The explanation given by City staff revolves around the issues with the State of not allowing pedestrian traffic across North Main. Shortly after the end of construction,the traffic control devices were placed with"Walk","Don't Walk"signs and pedestrian crossing lanes were painted on these streets. These indicate, that pedestrian can cross at that intersection. Kathe reported that the State Highway and Transportation Department was responsible for that intersection and numerous discussions between the Engineering Department and New Mexico State HighwayTransportation did take place about the requirement for curb ramps. The Highway Department did not feel it was a safe intersection for pedestrians to cross and would not allow the installation of curb ramps. Kathe stated that she agrees it was not wise to put in the traffic control devices that allows pedestrian crossing or to paint the cross walks. She advised the committee to note that at this point the curb ramps on the south side of the intersection are being removed. Kathe has discussed with the Streets Department that the pedestrian walk should not have been painted nor be re-painted and has recommend that"No Pedestrian"signs be placed there if the determination has been made that it is not a safe route for pedestrians. The status of that recommendation is unknown at this point. Yolanda asked how the Board could write up three resolutions and present them to the City Council. 1. The first resolution would consist of how to bring the attention of Traffic Engineering to the requirements of ADA. 2. The second would pertain to the call buttons at traffic control devices at corners and their locations. 3. The third resolution would pertain to how the City could set up an account to be used for emergency barrier removals. Yolanda asked that those items be a part of next months agenda. Kathe advised that all require significant discussion and that the resolution pertaining to a barrier removal fund may be best served if developed closer to the budget process. Kathe also stated it would be beneficial to come up with a basis in numbers of corrective actions taken in order to justify a request for an emergency barrier removal fund and to discuss further if that is additional monies or an allocation of the monies currently budgeted for ADA compliance work. Kathe reported that the full scope of sidewalk improvement costs within the City has yet to be determined by the Engineering Department. However, the scope of work is expected to be stagering. Kathe has advised her Division Director that the plan for sidewalk improvements as required by the ADA cannot be completed without direction by the Council on a level of funding they can feel comfortable with. Kathe reminded the committee that ADA Improvements in the public right-of-way are funded in two different areas. One which is the three hundred thousand(300,000)allocated this year as ADA Improvements,where the Engineering Department will go in and do ADA Improvements. The other comes out of the major construction area in Engineering where a street is going to undergo a major rehabilitation, at which time,the sidewalks are also brought into compliance. Further discussion on the funding issue is recommended as we move forward. Issue Assistance Yolanda asked whether what mechanism we may be able to put in place, where Kathe could come and advise the Board on what situations have occurred during the preceding month and facilitate a way for the Board to assist in some of those areas. Kathe reported that she does a monthly report for the Manager, highlighting issues. She brought a copy of that report today and apologized to Yolanda that she did not get this done enough in advance to provide it to her in an alternative format but will be e-mailed to Yolanda. Kathe requested the committee review that report and if that is the information that they are looking for, and if not that they can be more specific with the type of information that they would like to have provided to them and that request can be met. Mediation Kathe found an article shortly before the meeting today which the Board may find helpful in other areas of working with ADA. The article reports on the existence within the State of New Mexico of the first specially trained mediator to resolve ADA compliance issue complaints. Kathe provided each member of the Board with a copy of that article and e-mailed a copy of that article to Yolanda for her review. Transit Funding Request Support Kathe presented the Advisory Board with a letter which was drafted in conjunction with Mike Noonchester, in which the Advisory Board will support the City's effort to request 5310 money for para-transit to be submitted to the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department at the end of November. Kathe reminded the Advisory Board of Mike's presentation in the earlier month and of the efforts currently underway to increase the level of funding which comes to this area of the state to increase transportation services available both, within the City of Las Cruces and in the surrounding County. Kathe read the letter for the Advisory Board who agreed it was very well written, expressed their thoughts and agreed to sign the letter in support for the City's effort to go forward with this funding request. Disability Employment Awareness Month Absent a meeting in September, Kathe proceded with writing a proclamation declaring the month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The proclamation was presented to Ramon at the first City Council Meeting of this month. Ramon was going to bring that proclamation and read it to the Advisory Board. In his absence, Kathe reported the proclamation was signed by the Mayor and presented to Ramon at the Council Meeting. In addition, Kathe, with the cooperation of the Branigan Cultural Center staff, set up a display in the City Hall lobby which has photographs of the ADA improvements completed over the last year, as well as some basic disability awareness posters. Members of the Advisory Board are encouraged to stop and take a look at that display. Kathe can make the poster boards available at a subsequent meeting if requested. Closing Comments Yolanda emphasized that establishing a relationship with the City Council is imperative for the Advisory Board to be as successful in its mission as described by the Municipal Code. Yolanda also pointed out that, as is frequently the case, persons with negative opinions are often those who are most vocal and it is important for the Board as individuals and as a Board to recognize the positive steps forward that the City has taken and to insure that the City Council and the Mayor and the Manager are aware that those improvements have assisted persons with disabilities and improved the quality of life within the City of Las Cruces. Kathe agreed stating that frequently what occurs in any venue is that those with complaints are the ones which are most vocal, which is unfortunate. Whenever the opportunity arises to say `Thank You', `Good Job', it is always in our best interest to do that. Larry made a motion to adjourn the meeting which was seconded by Bob. The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m. Respectfully submitted Kathe Stark ADA Coordinator NEXT MEETING: NOVEMBER 17, 1998 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. BRANIGAN LIBRARY, DRESP ROOM A City of Las Cruces ADA Advisory Board Josette P. Lucero,Bureau Chief Public Transportation Programs Bureau New Mexico State Highway&Transportation Department POB 1149 Santa Fe,New Mexico 87504-1149 Re: City of Las Cruces Section 5310 Application Dear Ms. Lucero: This letter is submitted in support of the City of Las Cruces,Transit Department application for Section 5310 funds. The City of Las Cruces, Transit Department has been asked by the ADA Advisory Board to seek these funds in order to sustain and improve the transportation service provided to persons with disabilities in our community. The Dial-A-Ride service provided by the Las Cruces City Transit Department is the only non- client based transportation services provider to persons with disabilities in the City of Las Cruces. We feel that there are significant economies of scale achieved by centralizing the provision of transportation services for persons with disabilities into one agency. The City of Las Cruces Transit Department has the expertise to manage,operate and maintain a viable service. Assistance with the purchase of this vehicle will help the Transit Department replace its rapidly aging fleet and help assure continuation of the level of service now being offered. It will also permit the use of Section 5307 funds that would otherwise be needed to replace paratransit vehicles to be used to replace fixed route vehicles that are not accessible. Dedicating all of the ; areas 5307 funds to the replacement of the fixed route fleet will require at least 4 years to get our fleets accessible in accordance with ADA requirements. Accessible fixed route transit service is a high priority of this Board. We are,however,very concerned over the inability of Dial-A-Ride to keep pace with the growing demand for service. We support the request of The Arc and the Center for Independent Living for evening service to recreational activities and to City Council meetings. Disabled citizens who depend on public transportation cannot now avail themselves of participation in our political processes. We ask that you give careful consideration to this request. These funds are important to securing responsible and reliable transportation for persons with disabilities. We are concerned that without these grants our current Dial-A-Ride service will have to be reduced in order to provide for capital replacement costs. We are avai to answer stions concerning this letter of support. Re ectful submitt Ramon Arf n air 7'daThomTpson e S , Co-Chair sar Ro e Y I ea Peters Robs