By Andy Sevilla and Paige Lambert
With budget season looming, timing issues and concerns for potential future litigation derailed Kyle’s first attempt at an amenity access audit to survey public facilities for Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance.
Council previously approved a $121,400 contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates to conduct the audit. The firm was to look at 10 public buildings and seven miles of sidewalk where there is high pedestrian activity and five city parks.
Tuesday night, council members were slated for final approval of the funding.
City leaders instead voted unanimously to table funding for the audit and instead are pursuing an internal review of public facilities. The council’s new direction tasked city staff with identifying what buildings are ADA compliant, what shortfalls can be fixed quickly and what needs would have to be budgeted next fiscal year.
“We’re ordering a $121,000 audit, where we may be able to comply with the ADA for something less than that,” City Attorney Ken Johnson told the council during deliberations Tuesday night. “In other words, there may be modified versions of an audit. Or there may be certain things that if you’ve already complied with them, if you have a lot of buildings that already complied, then you may be able to do an abbreviated audit.”
Officials also were concerned that exposing ADA shortcomings in public facilities could open the city up to a lawsuit.
“I think that if you create a record such as this (audit), this would be an official document, (so) yes there’s a potential lawsuit – litigation,” Johnson told council. “In fact, this could very well be Exhibit A so to speak. Now, that’s not to say that we cannot also use it in our defense, because if we have this audit and we comply with the audit, then it’s sort of prima facie.”
But with council already approving that contract and now denying funding for it, Johnson said that move could prove problematic for the city. However, he said the contract has not been funded by council and “in my opinion, (it’s) based upon the funding being approved by council, but that will be a situation that we’ll have to work out.”
Mayor Todd Webster said he was concerned by the notion that the audit could pinpoint a laundry list of ADA violations before the city took some initiative to address some of the potential shortcomings.
“The other side of that coin … is it could become, if done correctly, it could be used as a road map to help identify and find those things we need to correct.”
When the Kyle City Hall, public library and the public works building were built, they were constructed meeting ADA requirements at that time, City Manager Lanny Lambert said, so they’ll only require an updated review. The city’s exposure will come upon examining the Old City Hall, the police department and city sidewalks and parks, he said.
Resident Pete Krug, who travels around town in a motorized scooter, said he’s never had real trouble with accessing the city’s facilities.
“It’s frustrating to deal with a place that’s not ADA compliant,” Krug said. “But with the (newly installed) electronic door at city hall, and a friend or someone nearby to help when needed, I’ve never had any issues.”
However, the law applies to more than just buildings.
“The ADA is a civil rights law, so it’s always changing,” Robert Ronson, accessibility specialist, said. “Right now they are evaluating rural hiking trails, but they are also constantly looking at ways of communication.”
The new standards can be applied to anything from websites, office personnel, to how meetings are conducted.
City staff is expected to report back on their Kyle ADA compliance report to the council sometime in July, the month where council begins to dig deep into next year’s fiscal budget.
ADA audit locations
Kyle City Hall, 100 W. Center Street
Historic Kyle City Hall, 101 S. Burleson St.
Annex Building, IT/VFW -101 S. Front
Kyle Public Library, 550 Scott St.
Kyle Train Depot, 101 N. Front St.
Police Dispatch Complex, 300 W. Center St.
Kyle Police Headquarters, 111 N. Front St.
Parks Maintence Shop, 225 Rebel Dr.
Lake Kyle Parks Office, 700 Lehman Rd.
Public Works, FM 150
Fire Station No. 2, 170 Burton Creek Road
City Square Park,Center Street
Gregg-Clarke Park, 1100 W. Center Street
Steeplechase Park, 295 Hallie Dr
Waterleaf Park, 700 Abundance Lane
Lake Kyle, 700 Lehman Rd.
Central Busines District
Chapa Middle School
Lehman High School
Science Hill Elementary
Wallace Middle School