Monongahela leads the way on accessibility

January 8, 2017

The Dec. 14 Observer-Reporter article, “Washington County commissioners to seek OK for $6.75 million in LSA projects,” discussed movement on a $65,000 grant that will improve the sidewalks of Monongahela to make them more accessible for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. These changes are urgently needed improvements to the quality of life of people with disabilities who visit, reside, and do business in Monongahela.

When resident Tim Caudill, a citizen with disabilities, came to a Monongahela City Council meeting to point out the accessibility issues in the downtown area, he became the leading driver behind the City of Monongahela Sidewalk Accessibility Project. Along with Ken Kulak, a city councilman, Caudill moved through downtown, identifying all barriers to businesses in the area. Caudill and Kulak shed light on things like missing segments of sidewalks, as well as curb cuts and ramps, which are universally useful, not just for wheelchairs and walkers, but a great boon for baby strollers, grocery carts, and moving dollies.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, giving equal rights to people with disabilities to use the same businesses, services, public buildings, public access streets, and walkways as their neighbors. Sidewalks are often overlooked, but they are key in providing access to offices, stores, parks, and other places we all need to use.

As we understand it, once funds become available in August or September, construction will begin and will be completed by Thanksgiving.

For many years, the Monongahela City Council has set aside community development block grant funds for these types of projects, slowly working on making Monongahela more pedestrian-friendly and attractive to all. Up until now, efforts have been piecemeal. This is a bold step and a vast improvement, creating a major impact on the city.

This will allow more people to move about so they can use the services, supports, and local businesses within the city. And with the adaptive dock/boat launch project at the Monongahela Aquatorium, even more of the city’s recreational areas will be accessible.

The City of Monongahela, Washington County’s commissioners, the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, and the local share account review committee deserve thanks for seizing the opportunity to make the downtown area more livable for everyone.

This is a stellar example for Washington County to follow – we should all feel proud of it. Tri-County Patriots for Independent hopes other communities pursue the same types of improvements. Monongahela is leading the way in making their community more livable for us all.

Nan Sninsky

Washington

Sninsky is the chief administrative officer for Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living.

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