Friday, February 19, 2016

Overton Park Planning for Accessibility

Overton Park planning is not just about parking, MCIL demands access

By Tim Wheat

Crowd at the Overton Park Hearing
Most of the 250 people at the First Baptist Church on Broad Street were interested in Memphis Zoo parking and vehicle parking on the Overton Park Greensward. However; the company hired by the Overton Park Conservancy is also planning upgrades in accessibility to be part of the overall plan at Overton Park.

Steve Auterman, a senior associate at the architecture firm Looney, Ricks, Kiss pointed to an essential part of the framework for any changes in the park. Like complying with Code Enforcement, Auterman said that any solution also had a “duty of care to the public” who use the park. Part of this duty is compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We have pushed off compliance to the ADA for a time in the Park,” Auterman said showing two slides with people using wheelchairs. “There are no accessible curb ramps. When I say the park must be accessible to everyone, I mean everyone.”

The balance of the public meeting was laying out parking solutions, but I felt it was clear that MCIL’s participation in the focus group and our request that inclusion of people with disabilities be a guiding principle for all renovations, and to remedy existing access issues in the park, was clearly heard by the planning group.

“This is not a park for all users,” said Steve Auterman said at the February 2 meeting at the Brooks Museum of Art.  “If you use a wheelchair there are areas you cannot go.”

MCIL is determined to follow this process and work to include you in our advocacy. Please let the Center know how you feel about access in Overton Park.

Crowd at the Overton Park Hearing