PIQUA — A resident accused the city of not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in regard to the city’s dog park during the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening.
“Being the wife of a totally disabled veteran, working with disabled veterans, and other people with limited mobility … I’m disappointed that our dog park does not meet the Americans Disabilities Act Title II,” Valerie Mullikin of Piqua said. “It is not accessible in any way, shape, or form.”
Mullikin talked about how she recently went to Hollow Park and almost fell due to the steep incline. Mullikin also said that it was not accessible for people pushing wheelchairs in addition to people riding scooters or using walkers.
Mullikin cited the importance of ADA-compliant dog parks as not only as an issue of equality for people with disabilities, but as an issue in terms of providing a quality of life to service dogs. “Disabled veterans … are getting service dogs at an alarming rate,” Mullikin said.
Mullikin explained that, in applying for a service dog, the veterans must list a place where they will take their service dogs to socialize with other dogs.
Mullikin accused the city of being in violation of ADA compliance. Mullikin suggested the city should take down signs designating Hollow Park as a dog park until the city either makes it ADA-compliant or establishes another ADA-compliant dog park.
“I think we need to resolve to take this one (dog park) down,” Mullikin said. “It’s either make it accessible … or you find a different location.”
Another resident also came forward with the same concerns about the city’s dog park. “It’s not accessible in any sense of the word,” Randi Simon-Serey of Piqua said.
Both the mayor and the city manager responded to these accessibility concerns. “You’ve raised a very good issue, and we will look at it,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said.
For City Manager Gary Huff, this issue is on the city’s radar and is one of the issues being studied in the Parks Master Plan that is currently under development.
“With our Parks Master Plan, part of that is to identify a suitable dog park site that would be accessible,” Huff said.
Huff explained that the city previously asked the Park Board to come up with recommendations for an ADA-accessible dog park, but they did not come up with any suggestions.
“My expectation is that we will have some recommendations for some sites that will be accessible,” Huff said. “We recognize that the existing dog park certainly cannot be made completely accessible, and that’s the purpose in having part of the alternate site for accommodation and other sites that are accessible.”
Huff cited the ADA in regard to how cities do not have to make each facility accessible, but can provide “program accessibility,” such as providing an alternate site, of which Huff said the city is in the process.
“I don’t want anybody to think that we’re not concerned about handicap-accessibility. In my time here, we’ve worked very diligently to try to improve facilities,” Huff said.
Huff mentioned the accessible playground at Pitsenbarger Park and also said the city has installed 483 handicapped ramps at intersections since 2011. Huff went on to say that the city has redone the Fountain Park trail bridge to make it ADA-accessible and is currently designing the city’s trail pedestrian bridges and renovating the Mote Park city restrooms for ADA accessibility.
“I don’t want anyone to think that we’re disregarding this, because we’re certainly not, and we intend to move forward with having an accessible area,” Huff said.
PCS to take over public access
Also during their meeting, the commission approved paying franchising fees in the amount of $45,000 to Piqua City Schools to operate the public access station. Huff said that the goal is to have Piqua channel 5 fully up and running by August. Spectrum is currently in the process of moving the cable fiber to the high school, though, which may cause a delay.
Commissioner John Martin asked what the programming will be like for the station. Huff said that they expect there to be more content development. The programming will be a part of curriculum required for media classes at the high school.
There also will not be a board of directors, only a possibly advisory board. There will also be no affiliation with or liability for the city.
“It will be much, much better than what it’s been,” Huff said.
City honors residents, retiree
Hinds honored long-time resident Edna Steifel for being named the 2017 Miami County Senior Citizen of the Year. Hinds noted how Steifel is an active community member and volunteer, including participating in Mainstreet Piqua, Taste of the Arts, Friends of the Piqua Parks, the park board, and more.
“On behalf of your city, we thank you for the good work and we celebrate you being our wonderful Miami County Senior Citizen,” Hinds said.
The commission also issued a resolution of appreciation for the public service of Elaine Barton, former human resources director with the city. Barton worked for the city for over 15 years.
“This commission tenders its unanimous and respectful tribute by this resolution, which shall be a matter of public and permanent record,” Hinds said.
Barton thanked the commission and said it was her pleasure and her privilege to be the human resources director. “I have worked with an amazing, amazing group of people, and I’m going to miss all of you,” she said. “I’m going to go fishing now with my husband, so maybe I’ll be back.”
Huff also commended and thanked Barton for her work at the city.
“I appreciate the knowledge that she shared with me,” Huff said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have her with us over the past few years.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336