The Village of Forest Park is developing a plan for making sidewalks and other public rights of way within its boundaries compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While the act requires all municipalities to develop a Transition Plan for Public Rights of Way, there haven’t been many penalties for not following through on this long-time provision. According to a 2020 study by the Chicago-based Metropolitan Planning Council, in the 30 years since ADA passed in 1990, only 11 percent of Chicago area municipalities adopted the plan. But the federal government is expected to make passing a plan a requirement for receiving federal funding.
Village Administrator Moses Amidei, who also serves as Forest Park’s ADA Coordinator, presented a plan to the village council during its Feb. 14 meeting. He said that he shared the earlier draft of the plan with the Forest Park’s Progress Center for Independent Living and made some changes based on the feedback he received. Now, he intends to release the updated plan for public review for the next 30 days and bring it back to the village council for potential approval.
The Forest Park Public Rights of Way ADA Transition Plan would deal with streets, but not village-owned buildings and parking lots. The plan introduction notes that Forest Park adheres to ADA when doing road improvement projects – but this does mean that accessibility can vary quite a bit depending on what got repaired or rehabbed in the last 31 years.
The plan calls for the village to look at all of its streets and catalogue barriers to accessibility. This can include fire hydrants obstructing the way, lack of street median refuge islands at crossings of major streets, gaps in sidewalks and issues with sidewalk and driveway slopes. The village will then develop a list of priorities.
The plan notes that some of the biggest issues happen on state-owned roads. Any improvements there would need to be approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The village will incorporate the aforementioned findings into its regular street maintained plans and 5-year capital plans. It will put particular priority on bringing sidewalk ramps at intersections into compliance. When a private developer brings their plans to the village, Forest Park will check to see whether the developments meet ADA requirements. The plan does include a caveat that larger-scale street improvement projects would hinge on funding availability.
Amidei told the council that much of what’s in the plan is something the village already does – this would simply set it down on paper as an official policy. He said that some of the major priorities would include Circle Avenue and Harrison Street improvements.
Amidei also mentioned that the village is currently looking at a grant to get funding to catalogue trees on the public rights of way. He said he expected to have more information on it during the next meeting on Feb. 28.
While the plan is not available as a separate document as of Feb. 15, it is included in the Feb. 14 meeting packet.