Re-evaluating a blanket policy on how the city of Perryville can get its sidewalks to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as handicapped accessibility, continues to be an ongoing discussion at City Hall.
Several Perryville residents spoke to the Board of Aldermen earlier this month regarding sidewalks. Many of those speaking publicly were not in attendance when the aldermen agreed to revisit any future sidewalk plan.
Perryville resident Terry Carroll questioned the need for sidewalks in his neighborhood by North Parkview when to his knowledge, only student uses them to walk to and from school.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Carroll said. “There are places in Perryville where we need sidewalks. The ones you did on Edgemont, I grant you, I agree, that was a great place to go. There is a lot of foot traffic, a lot of kids who walk to school. I see them all the time.”
Allowing for more discussion on the topic allows the Board of Aldermen to “incorporate some wiggle room so the Board can evaluate the situation and make decisions based on the particular street and needs and preferences of the neighborhood,” according to city administrator Brent Buerck.
“The extent of that wiggle room is what is up for debate and an eventual decision,” Buerck said.
Cities are advised to have a plan for addressing sidewalks with ADA, though it is not a requirement.
“The advantage of having a plan is if we’re not (compliant), we can plan on when we’re going to fix it, and that plan is admissible as evidence of your effort,” Buerck told the Board of Aldermen March 16.
“Before I vote on this, I want somebody with experience and knowhow to sit in front of us and tell us what’s required,” Alderman Prince Hudson said. “I want to know what the rules are before I vote on anything.”
Alderman Curt Buerck suggested a self-assessment of sidewalks within the city limits. He wants the city to determine the streets that still need ADA sidewalks.
Previously, Southeast Regional Planning has assisted the city in this effort, though it was more of seeking to find gap areas with no sidewalks, not necessarily ADA compliance for a specific neighborhood.
An official transition plan has yet to be developed.
“They won’t engineer any of it,” Brent Buerck said. “They’ll tell us where it’s within specs, where the grades are off, where there are lifts, where there are curbs. The plan is that they would walk every sidewalk and make all the measurements.”
Another issue is that the ADA requirements are modified every so often.
“I’m sure the guidelines have changed over the years,” alderman Larry Riney said.
It was reported the ADA guidelines were changed in 2010
“They’re getting more specific on it, I guess,” said engineer Tim Baer.
The question remains whether or not the city would be required to incorporate any of the changes to existing sidewalks, many constructed years ago.
“What are the consequences if we don’t do it?” Hudson asked.
“Can city streets be grandfathered in?” asked alderman Curt Buerck.
Hudson said a portion of the ADA guidelines are tied to federal funding and was not in favor of voting until more details could be provided.
“Until I know what’s driving this, I’m not voting for it, and I don’t think anybody else should,” he said.
“As long as they can explain everything,” Hudson said. “There has got to be somebody out there that can tell us what’s driving this.”
Getting more information regarding sidewalks is something the aldermen reached a consensus on.
“Those are the options that we’re going to explore with the board at our next meeting, exactly how we’re going to do it,” Brent Buerck said. “All that the board so far has committed to is looking at it and rethinking our process for deciding where a sidewalk goes.”
The committee makeup is undetermined at this point.
“They’re going to talk about how,” he said. “It could be a committee meeting of one alderman from each ward. It could be a committee made of the two aldermen for the ward that’s affected. It could be different things we just don’t know what exactly it’s going to be yet.”
Streetwork on North Parkview has been scheduled for 2021. As far as the sidewalks are concerned, that remains to be determined.
“They’ll make that ultimate decision,” Brent Buerck said. “They’re just going to look at the decision on when sidewalks are included. ”
Leading up to recent discussions on sidewalks have been informational workshops, often given through the Missouri Department of Transportation. In addition, an ADA workshop offered by the Federal Highway Association was another recent learning opportunity.
“Several aldermen and city officials participated,” Brent Buerck said.
Gas pricing update
For those worried about exorbitant gas bills following the cold spell in February, the city’s Board of Aldermen agreed to use a previous lower rate to charge customers.
“The board talked about this gas situation and the best way to proceed,” Buerck said. “They decided they would bill February’s gas usage using January’s rate instead of February’s rate.”
Using the January rate will likely save on customers’ bills.
“The decision was, ‘Let’s just keep it easy to understand,’ give people the relief that we think (they need). Over time, we’ll just build that reserve up,” Buerck said.
Park Center RFP
Buerck is optimistic that the board can make a decision soon regarding roof leaks at the Perry Park Center.
In the past few days, he has been gathering requestions for proposal for project bids
“I really hope that we can have something on this April 6 agenda to replace the portion of the roof that’s leaking,” Buerck said.
Covid-19 relief funding
National League of Cities estimated the city of Perryville would receive
$1,564,858.35 from the latest stimulus bill.
“I don’t know much more beyond that. I think it just showed up in the county treasury (last spring). I’m assuming it works fairly similar this time. The state will get it, they have 60 days to pass it down. There are pretty strict guidelines on what it can be used for, Covid relief. We didn’t use that the first time. When the county had that we were able to cover our stuff. Water and sewer infrastructure is another place it could be used.”
The Missouri Municipal League has resources that cities across the state can use for guidance on this. As for what the funds will be used for, that remains undetermined at this time.
“At this point, even the smartest people are speculating,” Buerck said.
Perry County is projected to get $3.7 million.