UPDATED: Framingham City Hall’s New Patio Does Not Comply With Americans With Disabilities Act

FRAMINGHAM – Earlier this month, the City of Framingham’s Economic and Development office and Downtown Framingham Inc, a nonprofit, partnered to unveil a new patio in front of the Memorial Building.

However, those tables and chairs for that patio do not meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilies Act (ADA), according to the Framingham Disability Commission.

Individuals in wheelchairs or scooters can not sit at the tables, that were installed by the City of Framingham, according to the Framingham Disability Commission.

Last Thursday, the Framingham Disability Commission voted to file a formal ADA grievance with the City’s ADA Coordinator, said Chair Karen Dempsey.

“It is frustrating that things can not be done right, so that every one can enjoy,” said Dempsey, who added she could not sit at the table with friends with her scooter.

The grievance was sent to Mayor Yvonne Spicer, ADA Coordinator and COO Thatcher Kezer III.

“First, we want chairs and tables installed that every one can use,” said Dempsey earlier today, July 31. “We like the idea of the patio. We don’t want the patio removed, we just want accessible tables and chairs at the patio.”

The Massachusetts Disabilities Act has in place for 50 years, and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act just marked its 28th anniversary, said Dempsey.

“In today’s day and age – 2018  – making seating accessible to all needs to be a thought. We know it was not intentional and we know they didn’t mean to install seating that every body and any one could use, but we are talking about a government (the City of Framingham) that should know better. This is not a small business that doesn’t the rules,” said Dempsey.

The #1 goal, said Dempsey is to make the patio accessible to all.

One way that could be done is to place different tables on the patio. The current tables are not high enough for a wheel chair to fit under them.

If that can’t be done, then the patio should be removed, said Dempsey, who said she hopes the City can find less “flimsy chairs” and better tables that meet ADA standards.

“It’s the morally right thing to do,” she said.

Kezer told Source he received an email from the Framingham Disability Commission.

“Our Economic Development staff will be working with our ADA Compliance Inspector to determine what changes would need to be done to meet any ADA requirements,” said Kezer, who is the City’s ADA Coordinator, on Monday night.

Dempsey said the City has officially 15 days to respond and make corrective action.

Dempsey said Kezer already emailed her back and said that he would speak to City of Framingham Economic Development Director Art Robert.

She added her and Kezer are also planning to meet to discuss the grievance.

“The tables were purchased by the Downtown Framingham Inc., with a Placemaking Grant request of $4,157.45 to the city,” said the City Chief Operating Officer Kezer. “The purpose of the grant is to provide amenities, even passive ones like sitting, in public spaces to create more activities in the downtown area. This is a pilot program to gage the response of creating more activities in the plaza in front of City Hall and to learn and adjust accordingly going forward.”

The patio made its debut in front of the Memorial Building on July 18. The patio consists of six tables and 30 chairs. The defined patio is marked with white banners printed with Downtown Framingham Inc.’s logo. The patio is open only during hours of the Memorial Building at this time.

As part of  any corrective action by the City, the Framingham Disability Commission also voted last week that City employees involved in the purchase and installation of the patio  attend the upcoming Community Access Monitor (CAM) training in October to help with awareness for people with disabilities, said Dempsey.

“Every one needs to think about access for all, before they act,” said Dempsey. “The training is important for everyone involved to learn about the rules and the law.”

 

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Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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