Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Porter ADA compliance takes several years in transition plan

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By PAULENE POPARAD

It’s estimated to cost the Town of Porter between $329,600 and $644,730 to make its primary sidewalks, intersections, corners and ramps fully accessible to those with disabilities.

That’s what’s needed to comply with federal law, and some improvements already have been made. But consultants believe it could take until 2030 or later for all needed upgrades to take place.

Nevertheless, local accessibility advocate Leonard Sullivan of Chesterton told Porter officials Tuesday, “You’re way ahead of a lot of people, believe me.”

Communities have until Dec. 31 to inventory town streets, sidewalks, buildings, properties and parks; develop a plan and budget to remove barriers; and implement a review process to monitor progress in removing those barriers.

Building commissioner Michael Barry has been designated Porter’s pointman to coordinate its compliance with the Americans With Disabilities/Vocational Rehabilitation acts. He and engineer Paula Armour of The Duneland Group hosted a public session Tuesday to describe the proposed transition plan.

Armour said a recent online survey on the town’s website had 90 people responding, 60 to the complete survey; over 80 percent were Porter residents and 10 percent indicated they have a disability, which Armour said can include vision and hearing impairments.

Sought were specific locations where sidewalks could be improved or installed and among those listed were Dune Meadows Drive south of Wagner Hills subdivision and Wagner Road north of Yost School. Because Porter doesn’t have jurisdiction, the town can’t build sidewalks along U.S. 20, U.S. 12 or Indiana 49.

Some subdivision sidewalks including areas of Porter Cove, Woodlake Springs and Hunters Glen require work at the intersections to make curbs, ramps and slope fully compliant with federal standards. Even more work is needed in Porter’s downtown with a potential $220,000 pricetag there.

Efforts will be concentrated on where people are most likely to use the sidewalks. “Let’s take care of things that make sense first, then we can fill in at a later date,” according to Armour.

In some locations it will be easy to remove barriers, she noted, while others are more involved. Although sidewalks are built on the south side of Michigan Street between Francis and Porter avenues, they’re too high. A solution could be to build new, ADA-compliant sidewalks on the north side of Michigan Street.

Resident Debbie Bowen said a sidewalk is needed to complete the way along Franklin Street east to Hageman Avenue, then north into Hawthorne Park. Armour said the area will be reviewed.

Porter also has to consider accessibility along its hike/bike trails. Responding to a question from resident Bill Sexton, Armour said ramps for the new Brickyard Trail are ADA compliant.

It’s estimated $16,000 in repairs have to be made to the Porter town hall, police station and Hawthorne Park community center parking lots to ensure required accessibility.

Armour said the town need only commit a reasonable amount of funds each year to removing accessibility barriers and as other unrelated projects are undertaken, the ADA upgrades can be tied in. “Any time it’s prudent to do that, we’re going to.”

As an example, ADA needs are being addressed in some areas of the downtown through current construction of a new Porter Avenue lift station and force main, and planned drainage work at Hawthorne Park likely will require some sidewalk restoration.

Resident Jennifer Klug said accessibility means more than just sidewalks; businesses need to be accessible, too. She suggested a grant program that helps businesses come into compliance. Barry said that can be proposed to the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce.

Sullivan said some business owners don’t realize how they lose customers when accessibility, including restrooms, is an issue.

Barry and Armour said the comment period will close and invited the public to contact them about the transition plan in the next few days. “We’ll have a better plan if we have your ideas,” she said. He can be reached at 395-9921.

Also meeting Tuesday, the Porter Town Council voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution establishing policies and procedures, including a grievance/complaint process, to assure all areas of the ADA are being complied with. Adoption was mandated by Dec. 31.

 

Posted 11/20/2012