After taking an inventory on where people in wheelchairs cannot go in Lincoln City, where they cannot shop, where they cannot get to the beach and what they cannot do once they manage to get inside a public restroom, the city now has at least a plan to help those in wheelchairs and who suffer other disabilities, including blindness. Total costs to be totally compliant with the American with Disabilities Act city wide: Nearly $7.8 million. And that’s just an estimate. By the way, the ADA law has been in effect for 26 years.
One of America’s problems, beyond being grotesquely late at meeting the “get around” needs of the disabled, is the fact that the federal government, which enacted the law, devoted little or no funds for such costly changes to buildings, sidewalks, elevators, bathrooms, public kitchens, stairs and on and on. For other projects like streets, highways, parks, recreation areas and other public facilities there are copious quantities of federal AND state grants. Not so for ADA projects. To be sure, there are “some” funds – but they are hard to get and when you get some they don’t nearly cover what’s needed – often for even small projects.
But, through it all, Lincoln City now at least has an updated plan to specify where the greatest need is around town for ADA projects like curb cuts, continuous sidewalks, automatic door openers, properly sized restroom stalls, hand railings and drinking fountains at appropriate heights, adequate beach and park access and more.
The Lincoln City City Council was told by an ADA planning consultant that the new plan now knows where the improvements must be made but admitted that based on so little funding from federal and state sources, it’ll take upwards of 15 years to get it all done. BUT! the good news is that the city will launch an effort to get “the most important stuff” done for ADA access to properly constructed and continuous sidewalks, curb cuts, entrances to public buildings like city hall, community center, public schools, libraries, businesses, employment, beach paths, parks and playgrounds. And speaking of playgrounds, the plan also targets Regatta Park to install different surface than wood chips at Regatta – something that wheelchairs can navigate.
The most likely first installment of 15 years of ADA progress is expected to occur at the intersection of Highway 101 and NE 22nd which is right next to schools, the Community Center, Parks and shopping.