Sunday, August 2, 2009

Scare talk: ADA

The RDC loves to punctuate their marketing with scare talk. Two of their favorite scare-issues are the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and the threat of personal-injury lawsuits. The Cobblestone Landing is no exception, and you can expect them to bring these topics up at the August 11 meeting. I'll deal with those lawsuits in another article. Let's talk about ADA.

Continues...This is from the government's ADA website:
Historically significant facilities are those facilities or properties that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or properties designated as historic under State or local law. Structural changes to these facilities that would threaten or destroy the historical significance of the property or would fundamentally change the program being offered at the historic facility need not be undertaken. Nevertheless, a city must consider alternatives to structural changes in these instances -- including using audio-visual materials to depict the inaccessible portions of the facility and other innovative solutions. [emphasis added]

To repeat: The ADA does not mandate structural changes that would threaten or destroy the historical significance of the property or fundamentally change the program being offered there.

But what would you call decommissioning the 150-year-old historic riverboat landing and replacing it with a red steel boat dock? What would you call creating a field of rip-rap and an unnecessary sidewalk at the so-called water's edge, making it impossible for boats to land, much less board passengers there?

I'd call it a fundamental change in the program. I'd call them structural changes that threaten and destroy the historic significance of the great Cobblestone Landing.

Already ADA-compliant

The truth of the matter is that the harbor and cobblestone areas are already ADA-compliant (or soon will be) within the meaning of the law:
  • As the RDC likes to tout, Beale Street Landing will offer not just one but several ADA-accessible paths to the water.

  • The sidewalk along Riverside Drive provides an incomparable view of the entire length of the Cobblestone Landing -- and that sidewalk isn't going to be under water much of the time, like the one the RDC proposes.
ADA simply isn't an issue. But the RDC wants you to think it's an issue because it would give them an apparent excuse to shut down our historic riverboat facility with unnecessary sidewalks, and then to turn our great Cobblestones into a mere museum relic, placing them metaphorically speaking "under glass" (with interpretive signage, of course).

When the RDC talks about ADA, don't listen to them. It's just scare talk and part of their shtick. (And we know why. Not to mention this.)


Artist's conception of Cobbles Under Glass.

Further reading

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