HUDSON — A settlement agreement is expected to be reached between the city and the U.S. Attorney General after a lawsuit from three residents pointed out a lack of accommodations in public spaces necessary under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The proposed agreement between the city and federal government was brought about by a complaint filed by three people against the city alleging, among other things, that the city of Hudson’s sidewalks are inaccessible, and that there are inaccessible entrances to City Hall, Promenade Hill Park and other locations.
The draft settlement agreement has to be signed by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, the Disability Rights Section Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney before it goes into effect.
The federal government initiated an investigation and review of the city of Hudson and found the city out of compliance in a number of factors. Representatives from the Department of Justice recently toured public spaces accompanied by Department of Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry.
The Department of Justice toured nine city sites to assess their accessibility, including six public buildings and three public spaces, including City Hall, 520 Warren St.; Henry Hudson Riverfront Park; Promenade Hill Park; Hudson Area Library at 51 N. Fifth St.; The Central Fire Station, 77 N. 7th St.; the Hudson Police Station, 701 Union St.; the Hudson Youth Center and the Hudson Youth Department Beach House at 132 Sixth St., sidewalks and curb ramps throughout Hudson. The library building is owned by the Galvan Foundation, not the city. Maintaining sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner, but the city is responsible for addressing any code violations.
Remedial action must be taken within 30 days, including appointment of an ADA coordinator, according to the draft settlement.
“The ADA coordinator is responsible for coordinating Hudson’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under the ADA, including investigation of ADA-related complaints, and the implementation of this agreement,” according to the settlement agreement.
In a 2017 survey, 74 percent of 156 city, town and village governments in the state, including Hudson, were out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act after it was enacted 27 years prior, according to the Disability Rights New York. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public entities with 50 or more employees must designate an employee to coordinate ADA compliance. Since the study, the city has not appointed an ADA coordinator.
Also as part of the settlement, Hudson agrees that the ADA coordinator will receive training for his or her position within 90 days. Under the agreement, the city will also establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations.
The mayor’s office has been working on a feasibility study to determine what it would take to make City Hall ADA accessible. The Common Council has been looking at using the former John L. Edwards School to house city offices.
“The city of Hudson is working closely with all relevant parties in both reviewing issues and determining steps towards resolving those that we are able to,” Mayor Rick Rector said Thursday. “We have and continue to be engaged in productive meetings with various government representatives from Washington, D.C., regarding ADA compliance.”
The city’s legal committee, led by Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, has been addressing the issues of sidewalk maintenance.
A temporary notification system has been placed outside City Hall to notify the city clerk if there is someone outside who requires city services, but is unable to enter the building because there is no ADA access. The person pulls a string, which notifies the clerk inside city hall that someone needs assistance.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.