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North Adams to Make 300 Municipal Upgrades to Comply with ADA

In order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of North Adams, Massachusetts must make over 300 repairs and upgrades to its municipal structures. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more…

The mayor of North Adams Richard Alcombright said that the Department of Justice sent him a letter in 2010 requesting an audit of all city-owned buildings after a complaint was filed regarding accessibility issues at the city police station. Now, in order to comply with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the mayor says North Adams must make over 300 repairs and upgrades around the city over the next 3 years.

Mayor Alcombright said that many of the upgrades, such as replacing old door handles in city hall to handicap accessible ones, can be done within the city’s budget.

Larger projects include improving city parks and athletic fields by creating handicap accessible paths, and renovations of public bathrooms. North Adams Administrative Officer Michael Canales says that the city will pay for those upgrades with money received from a federal Community Block Development Grant, or CBDG.  Canales says the city may be able to use some of that funding to leverage funds for what’s known as a Park Grant.

Massachusetts’ Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein, whose agency distributes the federal CBDG funding, told WAMC in an earlier interview that the money can be used for a variety of projects.

In June it was announced that North Adams was one of 46 cities and towns in the Commonwealth to receive part of the 26.8 million dollar CBDG award. The city received $900,000. North Adams plans to use some of the funding to upgrade the city’s master plan. Currently, the city is also in the process of upgrading its sidewalks to make them more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.