By Emily Klein, Reporter
Collinsville just became a more inclusive community. On Monday, April 22, the city council voted on a transition plan to make facilities and sidewalks compliant to the American Disabilities Act.
The council says it’s necessary to adopt the plan to be in compliance of Title II of the ADA. Title II of the ADA requires local governments with more than 50 employees to make services and facilities accessible to those who have disabilities. City Engineer Troy Turner said he’s “been working on the transition plan since 2016.” The resolution authorizing the adaptation of the ADA was unanimously passed.
The plan is intended to: identify physical obstacles that limit the accessibility of facilities to people with disabilities, describe the methods and costs to make said facilities accessible, provide a schedule and funding source, and appoint public officials responsible for implementing the transition plan.
“I would like to thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into this,” Mayor John Miller said in the meeting. Miller praised the transition plan and restated the importance of the plan to improve facilities to be ADA compliant. “They are good things because … those that are disabled really need help in those areas, so they can move about the city and be as those without disabilities.”
City officials have already assessed all city buildings and parking lots for ADA compliance, and the improvements are not cheap. Within each building, public spaces were assessed, e.g. public rest rooms, meeting rooms, and lobbies. They also assessed break rooms and employee rest rooms, amongst other employee common areas. The cost to address improvements to buildings and their interiors totals around $61,000. The City well set aside $50,000 a year from the Facilities Maintenance fund to address building-related ADA improvements.
The city of Collinsville assessed all sidewalks and ramps and were categorized into three tiers if they were found to be non-ADA compliant. They can be ranked as low, medium, or high based on their condition and amount utilized as well as distance to activity areas (public facilities, schools, and areas along busy streets). The city has determined the estimated cost to address tier one improvements is $85,000, the cost to address tier two would be $1,300,000 and tier three being $72,000. The City has allocated $100,000 per year in funding from sidewalk maintenance fund to correct the sidewalks and address other sidewalk issues in the city.
There is no cost at this time to adopt the plan, however, costs would be implemented to improve buildings and sidewalks based on the extent of the update needed.
In other business, City Council appointed Michelle Forneris to the Planning Commission. Forneris works for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). She attended Collinsville High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Forneris has over 15 years experience in the public sector and regularly works with local municipalities on traffic impact and planning studies, and site plan submittals.
“I want to give back to the community that I have grown up in and continue to reside. I want to be part of the positive transformation I believe is occurring and offer my expertise and perspective … on the Planning Commission,” Forneris stated.
With a brief moment to comment about Forneris’ experience, Forneris was appointed to the commission with a unanimous vote. During discussion, Councilmember Jeff Stehman commented on the Planning Commission and encouraged volunteers that sit on Collinsville’s commissions.
“I think it’s the most professional staff as far as engineering and architecture that we have,” Councilmember Jeff Stehman said. He addressed Forneris to say, “You’re going to do so good for your community, and thank god there’s people out there that want to volunteer help the city, so thank you.”
She is replacing Tony Hausmann, councilman elect, and she is the second engineer on the Planning Commission. Councilmember Cheryl Brombolich praised Forneris for volunteering to be on the commission in her free time.
“People put energy into volunteering and helping the community, and we appreciate everyone that is on a commission because they all do it for no pay,” Brombolich said. “The fact they want to help out, it’s really great.”