Rockville has initiated accessibility improvements to our system including parks and facilities renovations. Examples of improvements include parking area repaving, new signage, compliant walkways, park amenity modifications and/or replacements. Work scope may vary at specific locations depending on the facilities, terrain, park usage and other factors. New renovations and improvements to our existing facilities are performed in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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The revised ADA regulations that took effect in March 2012 incorporate standards for parks and recreation facilities that were not previously available – including standards for fitness, playgrounds, sports fields and courts, and more. These new standards prompted many local governments to evaluate their parks and recreation facilities.
The City of Rockville Recreation and Parks and the City government began efforts to address accessibility in 1993 when the City hired a consultant to perform its first accessibility audit of its buildings. More recently, in 2016, the City hired an ADA consultant to conduct an audit of our parks and facilities to identify the deficiencies and provide a transition plan as a roadmap to remediate deficits. As part of the City’s efforts to address accessibility, Rockville continues to welcome public feedback, is working to modify communications, improving signage, reviewing policies and providing additional access and inclusion training for its employees.
The city hired a third-party ADA consultant to identify deficiencies and provide a plan for the removal of barriers and improvements needed. The ADA Audit and Transition Plan for the park system and the City’s public facilities was approved by the Mayor and Council in 2016. Some Rockville facilities, programs and parks are accessible and/or offer accessible amenities, including Woodley Gardens Park, Senior Center and Park, Glenview Mansion, Twinbrook Community Recreation Center and Park, Swim and Fitness Center, Dogwood Park, and Mattie J. T. Stepanek Park to name a few.
Rockville will continue efforts to make new parks and those parks that undergo renovations ADA compliant. Rockville develops a multi-year plan for making improvements during its annual budget process. The input received from public meetings and outreach impacts how Rockville prioritizes our efforts, along with the audit and transition plan’s recommendation, are used to develop a timeframe for completing the work needed. The Audit and Transition Plan identified a ten-year period for implementation. Although the City is making good progress on barrier removal and ADA improvements, the ten-year timeframe is optimistic and will likely take longer.
Although final cost estimates are adjusted during the design phase of each project the audit and transition plan in 2016 estimated ADA improvements at approximately $4-6 million. Staff have found the estimates in the audit and transition plan to be woefully lower than actual costs.
The public outreach process has a significant impact on prioritizing the accessibility improvements needed. Other factors that determine what improvements are prioritized include ensuring that accessible facilities are distributed fairly throughout the City, other operating and Capital Improvements Program projects, age of existing facilities, how the site and facility is typically used, as well as funding sources.
Potential changes to parks and facilities may include adding walkways and ramps at athletic fields, installing accessible parking spaces, and adjusting drinking fountains, grills and picnic tables for accessibility. Other examples of potential changes include accessibility improvements to playgrounds, skate parks, dog parks, theatre, specialty use facilities, historic sites, etc.
Rockville is working its way through the ADA Transition Plan with improvements and barrier removal projects included within the Capital Improvement Program and the operating budget process. The City always welcomes input through our website and phone line for improvements that residents identify. Rockville will continue efforts to make new parks and those parks that are under renovation ADA compliant.
The public is encouraged to visit www.rockvillemd.gov/ada which will be updated regularly with information about our efforts. You can also provide input via email at ADA modifications, please contact the city’s Americans with Disabilities coordinator at 240-314-8108, firstname.lastname@example.org, TTY 240-314-8137 or Relay 711.