Facilities manager hopes for ADA grant money
Rochester — Any disabled Rochester resident may have noticed that the Town Hall can be difficult to get around in a wheelchair. But Facilities Manager Andrew Daniel is trying to fix that.
Daniel appeared before the selectmen on Monday to ask permission to apply for a Massachusetts Office of Disability grant that could award the town up to $250,000 for American Disabilities Act compliance improvements.
“Beginning in January of 1992 municipalities were supposed to start to meet ADA standards, and they were supposed to be completely compliant by January 1996,” Daniel said.
However, certain aspects, such as the bathrooms in Town Hall, still do not meet compliance standards.
Daniel did a full assessment of all the town’s buildings and found that while most of the new ones are in good shape, some needed some work.
“Most of them were built in compliance with ADA standards, but all buildings could use something,” he said. “Whether it’s automatic door buildings, parking or inclusive playground materials, top to bottom it accumulates.”
In addition to assessing all the buildings, Daniel also looked at non-physical barriers such as programs and activities, as well as compliance for vision and hearing impaired people.
After showing it to Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar and Town Counsel Blair Bailey, Daniel sent it to the state for feedback. State officials were impressed by his work and said that in order for the town to be eligible for the grant money, the evaluation and transition plan done by Daniel has to be accepted by the town.
The grant deadline is June 30, and while Daniel emphasized that the town may not necessarily get the full $250,000, any bit helps and saves the town from a potential hassle in the long run.
“The problem is if you disregard [ADA compliance] and then you get the knock on the door, then you’re on the clock,” he said. “You’re being scrutinized and then it can get expensive. You’ve got to make the move. I want to do the work, but we could really use that grant money to help do it.”
Ultimately, Daniel left copies of his assessment for the selectmen to look over before giving their OK.