With the City of Oakdale required to do a self-evaluation of its Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and develop a formal transition plan, the Oakdale City Council on Monday, Nov. 17 unanimously approved an item for the city to address the changes necessary to implement accessibility in its buildings, parks and public rights-of-way.
Public Works Executive Secretary Colleen Anderson advised the council that city staff has started the self-evaluation of facilities and also developed a grievance and compliant procedure as required by federal law.
Anderson stated that the complaint and grievance procedure has been uploaded to the city’s website and is available to the public.
As part of the transition, the city has already moved forward identifying needed improvements and including them in its 2014 Pavement Improvement Project as part of the budgeted capital improvements for the city. Some of the improvements noted were striping of city parking lots and curb access ramps.
Other identified areas currently in the design stages of transitioning are local pedestrian ramps to be in conformance with the ADA including the council chambers, Sierra View Elementary and Cloverland Elementary schools.
During her presentation Anderson showed photos that included various design barriers throughout the city that would have to be addressed including telephone poles in the middle of sidewalks and other public areas unable to fit a wheelchair.
Since the city has limited funds and cannot immediately make all facilities fully accessible, Anderson asked to use funds from its gas tax account for the preparation of the transition plan.
With the gas taxes the city would budget $50,000 for both the 2015-16 Fiscal Year and 2016-17 Fiscal Years for a total of $100,000. Once fully funded, in fiscal year 2016-17 the city would release a Request for Proposal and select an ADA qualified consultant to produce the formal transition plan.
Also at the meeting, Police Chief Lester Jenkins provided an update of the city’s ordinance that banned alcohol in city parks that was adopted last year.
The ordinance was enacted last November due to the increase in the number of transients using Wood Park and William Meyer Park as well as the police experiencing an increase in citizen complaints of fighting, public urination and storage of large amounts of personal items by the transients in public areas.
“I feel it’s been quite effective in the two parks,” said Jenkins. “It was getting to the point that it (transient occupancy) was getting to be an eyesore.”
Jenkins said that with the ordinance in place officers began regular checks of the two parks and cited or arrested many transients for drinking, possession of alcohol, or other unlawful behaviors.
The increased level of enforcement resulted in a gradual reduction of the numbers of complaints and subsequent citations and arrests.
In October 2014, Oakdale Police issued 11 citations for the ordinance violation.
Jenkins attributed the decline due to that prior to the ordinance those drinking vast quantities of alcoholic beverages in the parks were “virtually unfettered prior to the enactment of this ordinance.”
Jenkins said that for more than six months the department has seen very few transients staying in Wood Park.
“I think to this point it’s been quite successful,” Jenkins said. “It hasn’t made the transients go away but it gives me another tool.”