The city of Redmond’s Parks and Recreation Department is developing an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Transition plan to make the city’s green spaces more accessible to everyone in the community.
With a consultant, the department has audited Redmond’s 47 parks and 39 miles of trails to determine what complies with ADA standards, and what needs to be improved. One of the taglines used by the Redmond parks department is “everyone plays!”
“In terms of the city, we need to make all of our programs accessible so everyone can participate,” said Jeff Aken, Redmond’s senior park planner.
The civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities and prohibiting discrimination was passed in 1990, and updated in 2011, Aken said.
The city identified some obstacles that limit participation with Redmond’s parks and recreation facilities and activities, such as parking, playgrounds and sports courts that are not accessible, Aken said. Redmond wants to develop priorities and draft a schedule to remove those barriers.
The city convened a stakeholder group in June and held open houses in September to collect input on the community’s accessibility priorities. It is also conducting an online survey, which will close at the end of the month.
The stakeholder group, comprised of people who live and/or work in Redmond and who use a wheelchair, are visually impaired or are caregivers or advocates, gave the city needed insight on the user experience in its parks.
“It was really enlightening from our perspective to hear their stories and some of the challenges,” Aken said.
After taking the consultant’s recommendations and community feedback into consideration, the city will start to create the ADA transition plan, Aken said. The plan will be based on geography and use (every neighborhood will be considered, but the most used community parks are Grasslawn, Perrigo and Anderson) and will cover potential improvements over the next nine to 12 years.
Some projects will involve easy fixes, such as improving signage and trimming trees back from paths so people can navigate them more easily. Others will involve more time and money, such as retrofitting the cabins at Anderson Park or baseball field dugouts to widen the entryways. Aken said the city also heard a lot of feedback on parking and restrooms at its open houses.
The parks department has requested that placeholder funding be included in the city’s upcoming biennial budget to get started on some projects, Aken said. It’s also hoping for money to continue the ADA audit work to city facilities, such as City Hall, the teen center and senior center, to develop a comprehensive transition plan.
“The starting point for this was ADA accessibility, but these changes will make the parks more accessible for everyone,” Aken said. “They’ll be easier to use and navigate.”
For more information, see www.redmond.gov/ParksADA.