By Kristen Levine, Reporter
The Town of Princeton underwent a self evaluation for ADA compliance and received a report from the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission partnered with the Center for Living and Working. The report spurred upcoming changes to better comply.
The ADA, or Americans with Disability Act, was first introduced in 1991 and was amended in 2008 and 2010 to better serve disabled Americans. As cited in the ADA’s mission statement, “the purpose of the law is to make sure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else”.
“What we want to do is be strategic and resourceful,” said Town Administrator Sherry Patch. “Departments are reviewing recommendations on what to do, and we’re lining up projects for the next grant round…We’re putting larger projects in for the Town Capital Plan.”
Funding for the ADA compliance projects will be coming from grants through myriad sources, such as the Massachusetts Office on Disability, or MOD, Project grant program. A grant request from MOD will be submitted by the Town by October. Funding for the ADA improvement projects are separate from the Local Rapid Recovery Plan and its grants, in process for other projects to improve Princeton as a whole rather than focusing on town buildings.
“At this point we have the plan that was submitted,” Patch said. “We’re reviewing it and we are going to start implementing where we can, and where it’s feasible. Some things are low-hanging fruit [such as] signage…There are bigger ticket items that will require funding.”
One such big-ticket item will be improvements to the Town Hall Annex to make parking more accessible. While large investments are under consideration for the Annex, depending on if a new public safety complex were ever to come to fruition, proposed parking changes would include an eight-foot-wide access aisle to ease accessibility for vehicles such as wheelchair vans.
“Depending on the size of the project and funding, smaller projects will be the ones we’re addressing immediately over the next few months,” Patch said. “There was nothing called out for immediate addressing, nothing prioritized. [The plan] focuses by location, and what it would need to bring it up to code…There are no emergency repairs needed to meet ADA compliance.”
While there are no immediate concerns, there is always room to improve. Patch noted that no formal contracts are out for large-scale work yet, though keeping work local is a goal.
“Depending on the cost, we’ll need to get three quotes and go out to bid formally,” she said. “We always try to use local contractors.”
A comprehensive report is available on the Princeton Town website, outlining all the proposed changes and cost estimates.
“We just received the report recently…. departments are reviewing recommendations and lining up projects for the grant [funding] rounds. [We are] putting in larger projects for the town capital plan,” Patch said. “What we want to do is be strategic and resourceful…We will be looking at other potential funding sources, and probably be putting some of them into capital planning for the next few fiscal years.”