Ocala Recreation and Parks Director Kathy Crile indicated that city parks were “nearly all” within compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Tuesday afternoon.
During a workshop for Ocala’s 2019-2020 fiscal budget, Crile fielded questions from council members regarding ADA compliance across the city. Crile indicated that the city has spent the better part of the last decade working towards compliance.
“About 8 to 10 years ago, the access board adopted what had previously been recommendations for access requirements for recreation facilities,” said Crile.
She went on to explain that the city adopted a transition plan over a ten-year period to remedy access issues in the parks. Some of the issues were addressed through new construction, including paving the trail system that used to be clay to provide access throughout the park system.
“Now, as we put new facilities in, we make sure they meet those requirements,” said Crile.
She went on to elaborate that the city is nearing the end of the plan, with approximately three years remaining, and that only a few issues remain.
Council member Justin Grabelle, who represents District 5, also inquired about recreational equipment made specifically for children with disabilities.
“All of our playgrounds are ADA accessible. We use an ADA accessible surface,” clarified Crile. She explained that the city council previously adopted a “universal accessibility approach for” community playgrounds that was more comprehensive in addressing social access in addition to ADA compliance.
“ADA might require a ramp and it might only be three-feet wide. Universal accessibility recognizes that a person in a wheelchair on a three-foot wide ramp is now in the way, so socially it creates a stigma. So [universal accessibility] requires a six-foot wide ramp,” explained Crile.
She went on to state that although all of the city’s playgrounds and almost all athletic facilities were in compliance, certain places created more challenges as a result of their topography, including the Fort King National Historic Landmark.
“Trail systems in that type of environment currently don’t require us to meet [ADA]. As you can imagine, that’s because the federal government runs the national parks system and for them to meet ADA requirements would be nearly impossible. Those kind of exceptions are made,” said Crile.