Playground being made more accessible, but disability rights group still concerned

wwny Playground being made more accessible, but disability rights group still concerned

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Five year old Ashton Taylor likes to go to the Thompson Park playground.

He uses a walker because he has cerebral palsy. But his mom says the surface of the playground makes it hard for him to move around.

Christian Taylor is Ashton’s aunt and works for the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group.

“I think a better investment would be a rubber surface that is more expensive at the onset but does not require nearly as much maintenance,” said Taylor.

City officials are trying to make improvements to the playground. They are making a piece of equipment safer for kids who use walkers. They’ve also hired a worker to keep the playground’s path clean. More parking spots for people with disabilities and better accessibility to bathrooms are also improvements in the park.

“The city takes this very seriously. We have spent a lot of time throughout the entire city looking at these issues, and although we aren’t going to get everything done in one year, two years, three years, it’s a multi-year type of task but we are moving forward and we are making significant progress,” said City Manager Rick Finn.

Even though the city has made steps to improve accessibility in the park, staff from NRCIL says more needs to be done.

“While I’m encouraged the city is responding to the issues with the playground, I’m also concerned that this surface was installed and it was never ADA compliant from the beginning,” said Taylor.

City officials say the material is engineered wood fiber, which is American with Disabilities Act or ADA compliant, but it needs to be installed layer by layer..

Finn says the city called the companies that installed the playground to make sure it’s ADA compliant.

“I was advised that when they were originally put in they met all the requirements, so we are still doing some checking to make sure we are in complete compliance,” he said.

Finn says they will have that information shortly.

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