New Albany leaders are making a plan to ensure the city is accessible for those with disabilities.

The city has slated a public meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at Village Hall, 99 W. Main St., as part of the process for creating its Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.

The plan will help the city ensure residents and visitors are not discriminated against on the basis of disability, said city spokesman Scott McAfee. The meeting will be a way to outline the plan and obtain feedback from anyone who uses the city's roads, sidewalks, parks, buildings or other facilities.

Forming a transition plan is a federal requirement, said Mark Nemec, New Albany's public-services director.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a federal law that requires all public agencies -- regardless of size -- to ensure their services, programs and activities are accessible to persons with disabilities, said Sarah Wade, ADA/504 program manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation Division of Opportunity, Diversity & Inclusion.

Compliance includes conducting a self-evaluation of building facilities, rights-of-way facilities and communications to identify any accessibility obstacles or issues that need to be addressed, she said.

Because ODOT receives federal funding and passes on those funds to local governments throughout the state, the department has a responsibility to educate and provide technical assistance for its recipients of federal funds, Wade said.

Public entities that employ 50 or more people are required to establish a transition plan to achieving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and monitor the implementation of the plan, she said.

Agencies should have completed transition plans by Jan. 26, 1992, and the deadline for completing those improvements was Jan. 26, 1995, Wade said.

In New Albany's case, the city did not have a transition plan because until a few years ago, it did not have 50 employees, Nemec said.

"The current status of ADA compliance among Ohio local agencies has recently become a topic of increasing focus and discussion," Wade said. "While it appears that many public entities have made great progress with their ADA compliance efforts during the past two decades, there are also indications that many local agencies have struggled with conducting a self-evaluation and developing their ADA transition plan."

ODOT has conducted numerous training sessions throughout Ohio over the past two years on ADA compliance for local governments, Wade said.

"There have been participants from almost every county across Ohio in the various training sessions," she said.

At the Sept. 24 meeting, New Albany officials will share with residents a draft presentation of proposed updates for the city to remain ADA compliant, Nemec said.

The upgrades will cost an estimated $900,000, and they likely will be carried out within a 10-year timeframe, he said.

Improvements include upgrades to push-button-activated traffic signals for pedestrians, curb ramps, sidewalks and parking, as well as modifications to ensure public buildings are ADA accessible, Nemec said.

The city worked with EMH&T to draft the transition plan at a cost of about $44,000, he said.

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