City Reaches Agreement With Advocates Over Sidewalk Accessibility And
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 23, 2006
CLARKSVILLE, TENNESSEE--It has taken nearly four years, but both sides of a contentious lawsuit have finally agreed on the language of a settlement outlining how the City of Clarksville will make its sidewalks safer and more accessible.
Julia Hollenbeck, Steve Traylor and Margaret Auld -- all disability rights advocates with the grassroots nonprofit Wheel Me On -- filed the class action suit in 2002 against the town, claiming that it's failure to provide accessible facilities and services violated their rights under Title II of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
The suit was settled in January 2004 in favor of the plaintiffs, but the city and the advocacy organization still needed to hammer out the details of the final agreement, known as a "consent decree".
The Wheel Me On advocates met recently with lead attorneys for a three-hour mediation session to finalize the consent decree's language, which addressed, among other things, the steepness of an estimated 900 curb ramps throughout the town.
To follow the agreement, the town will likely spend about $14 million to $20 million over a ten-year period to comply with the ADA.
Hollenbeck told the Leaf-Chronicle that -- despite her insistence that the agreement apply to all disabilities -- the city refused to drop language referring to "mobility-impaired persons with disabilities".
"If the city of Clarksville is dumb enough not to include Braille, not to include crosswalks, they're going to get sued again," she said.
The City Counsel has to approve the consent decree before it goes to a federal judge for his approval.
"City to investigate ADA compliance" (The Leaf-Chronicle)
"City Makes Access Changes After Years Of Pressure From Advocates" May 24, 2006 (Inclusion Daily Express)
"Wheel Me On, et. al vs. City of Clarksville" (Wheel Me On)