The City of Bend received a letter on July 23, 2014, stating that the U.S. Department of Justice has closed its files on the City’s 2004 Project Civic Access Settlement Agreement for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The letter from the Department of Justice says, “Your City has acceptably progressed in compliance with the Settlement Agreement.” This letter signifies that the Department of Justice acknowledges the time and effort the City has invested in bringing this matter to a positive resolution.
However, the announcement from the Department of Justice does not change the City’s commitment to improving accessibility throughout the City by upgrading curb ramps and sidewalks, maintaining accessible features within City facilities and working collaboratively with various disability committee groups in the community.
“The City will continue to increase and improve accessibility infrastructure throughout the City of Bend,” said Karin Morris, the City’s accessibility manager. The City will periodically update its transition plan and continually look at areas across the city in need of accessibility improvements, according to Morris.
The 2004 Settlement Agreement resulted from a complaint filed to the Department of Justice claiming that the City had not taken steps to provide access to its programs and services.
In the 2004 settlement case with the Department of Justice, the City agreed to provide curb ramps or other sloped areas at all intersections of the streets, roads, and highways identified as having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway. The settlement required the City to complete the work by March of 2015. The City has not expected it would be able to meet that deadline.
The City has, however, made considerable progress toward its goals.
The City has made sure its website, public meeting notices, services and events are accessible. All of the City’s public facilities, including City Hall, Police and Public Works facilities, are now accessible.
The City has hired an Accessibility Manager who meets with several disability advocacy groups and has created an accessibility advisory board that provides assistance and guidance to the City Manager on accessibility issues.
“I greatly appreciate accessibility advocates for bringing these important issues to the forefront, and for pushing progress toward these goals,” said City Manager Eric King. “Of course I’m pleased with the announcement from the Department of Justice but it doesn’t change the path the City will continue to follow toward making Bend accessible for everyone.”