HUDSON — Mayor Kamal Johnson has appointed a point person for people with disabilities to lodge complaints and ensure the city’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Michael Chameides, who was appointed mayoral aide by Johnson at the start of his term at an annual salary of $30,000, will serve as ADA coordinator.
Chameides will be paid an additional $5,000 for his new duties. The funds were set aside in the city’s contingency budget during the 2019 budget talks. A resolution transferring the $5,000 in funds to from contingency to personnel is expected to be voted on at the Common Council meeting Tuesday at City Hall, 520 Warren St.
“I want to create a shared culture and commitment to accessibility,” Chameides said Tuesday. “We need all city of Hudson departments to be aware of opportunities to improve and actively contribute to solutions.”
The announcement was made by Common Council President Thomas DePietro at the meeting of the Common Council at City Hall on Monday.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public spaces, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
Under the ADA, public entities with 50 or more employees must designate an employee to coordinate compliance. After the study was revealed, the city did not appoint a coordinator.
A government entity may elect to have more than one ADA coordinator. The ADA coordinator is responsible for investigating any allegations that the entity has violated Title II. The name, office address and telephone number of the ADA coordinator must be provided to interested persons.
The proposed agreement was reached last year between the city and federal government after a complaint filed by three unnamed citizens against the city alleged Hudson’s sidewalks are inaccessible and that there are inaccessible entrances to City Hall, Promenade Hill Park and other locations.
The federal government initiated an investigation and review and found the city out of compliance in a number of factors. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice recently toured public spaces and found that Oakdale beach house, City Hall and Youth Center are among the spaces not ADA-compliant.
In a 2017 survey, Hudson was among the 74 percent of 156 city, town and village governments in the state that were out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, according to the Disability Rights New York.
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.
“As we all know this is a difficult problem to solve,” DePietro said Monday. “How do we do it without undue financial suffering for the city at large and individual property owners? As you recall, we don’t really have much choice in this matter. We were sued for non compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, and we were now being monitored by the federal government. The government demands we respond. We’ve already been looking at other municipalities on how we handle this in the past session and will continue to do so.”
One of the first and biggest concerns the city is undertaking is replacing its sidewalks, which under the code are the responsibility of the homeowner. A proposed law mandating sidewalk replacement is currently in committee.
The city has steadily been replacing sidewalk curbs as part of Department of Transportation requirements, Department of Public Works Chairman Robert Perry said. Replacing the curb corners are the responsibility of the property owners but the state DOT is ensuring all municipalities comply with ADA requirements on their projects, Perry said.
“To date, we’ve only addressed the curbs on streets that are repaved where DOT is reimbursing the city,” Perry said Tuesday.
The city has replaced 30 curbs in the 6-8 years, Perry said. But there are dozens more to go.
The mayoral aide’s contact information is listed on the city’s website. Chameides can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-7217.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.