MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN: MY NAME IS MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN. I'M A SENIOR POLICY ASSOCIATE. I'M AN ATTORNEY AND ADVOCATE FOR HEALTH AND ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES THIS IS TO WHICH I PRESENT MY TESTIMONY TO YOU.
EARLIER AT YOUR HEARING IN COLORADO, TWO OF OUR MEMBERS PROVIDED YOU TESTIMONY WITH SOME OF THE ANSWERS TO OUR QUESTIONS THAT WE HAVE DEVELOPED. THE NATIONAL RECREATION PARK ASSOCIATION, JUST SO YOU UNDERSTAND AND SEE WHERE WE ARE COMING FROM, OUR MISSION IS TO ADVANCE PARKS RECREATION AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION EFFORTS TO FURTHER EXPAND IN ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF ABILITY LEVEL.
WHO WE ARE BASICALLY COLLECTIVELY, WE REPRESENT ALL OF THE LOCAL AND STATE PARK AND RECREATION DEPARTMENTS ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY. SO WHEN YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT OUR FOOTPRINT AND SIZE OF WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE REPRESENT, OUR MEMBERS COLLECTIVELY OPERATE ABOUT 500,000 FACILITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE ABOUT 6,000 AGENCIES THAT HAVE MULTIPLE DEPARTMENTS IN THEM, AND OPERATE MULTIPLE SITES. AGAIN, WE ARE LOCAL, AND STATE PARK AND RECREATION. WE DO PARTNER VERY CLOSELY WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND MANY OF OUR LOCATIONS AS WELL AS IN MANY OF OUR PROGRAMS OF COURSE.
SO I'M GOING TO TRY TO GO THROUGH AS QUICK AS I CAN, SOME OF THE ANSWERS TO SOME OF THE QUESTIONS, AND THEN I WILL PROVIDE THE COPIES OF MY TESTIMONY AS WELL BUT WE WILL BE PROVIDING OUR FINAL ANSWERS DEFINITELY BEFORE THE OCTOBER 18TH DEADLINE.
JUST TO START OFF WITH A COUPLE OF OUR GENERAL COMMENTS. ONE OF THE COMMENTS WAS ACTUALLY ADDRESSED EARLIER BY THE INDIVIDUALS WITH THE FOREST SERVICE. WE URGE YOU TO CONSIDER THE INCLUSION OF THE DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENT TO DIRECT BASICALLY SO THAT PLANNERS AND PROGRAMMERS HAVE TO DETAIL THEIR PROCESS AS TO WHY THEY ARE TAKING EXCEPTION, WHAT EXCEPTIONS THEY ARE TAKING, AND WHY THEY FELT THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO TAKE THAT EXCEPTION. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT THAT, THOSE COMMENTS MADE EARLIER TODAY SO I WON'T ELABORATE ON THOSE. THE OTHER PART THAT WE WOULD SUGGEST AND URGE YOUR INCLUSION IN THE GUIDELINES IS SOME TYPE OF CLEAR LANGUAGE ABOUT THE QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF HISTORIC SITES, AND PROTECTED WILDERNESS AREAS. A LOT OF LOCAL AGENCIES PERHAPS, DON'T KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE, OR HOW THAT APPLIES, OR IF -- WHERE THOSE EXCEPTIONS LIE SO THAT WOULD BE ONE OTHER SUGGESTION.
AND FURTHER, YOU KNOW, OUR LAST GENERAL OVERVIEW COMMENT IS OUR MISSION IS TO TRY TO PROVIDE INCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERYBODY. WE REALLY WANT TO URGE OUR MEMBERS TO MAKE SURE THAT AS THEY MAKE THEIR YOU KNOW, IMPROVE UPON THEIR EXISTING FEATURES OR THEY BUILD NEW FEATURES THAT THEY MAKE THEM AS ACCESSIBLE AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT IS FROM WHERE OUR PERSPECTIVE IS.
ONE OF OUR VERY BIG QUESTIONS WE HAVE AGAIN AS REPRESENTING LOCAL AND STATE PARK AND RECREATION DEPARTMENTS IS ABOUT THE ABILITY OF THESE GUIDELINES. AND AGAIN AS A NATIONAL ORGANIZATION WE ARE ENCOURAGING ALL OF OUR MEMBERS TO FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES AS SOON AS THEY BECOME FINAL THAT'S WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING, AND THAT'S WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. HOWEVER WE WILL HAVE SOME MEMBERS THAT WILL RAISE THEIR HANDS AND SAY THIS APPLIES TO FEDERAL PROPERTY AND WE ARE NOT FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL, AND THEN THERE WILL BE THE OTHER QUESTION OF REBUTTAL, WHAT ABOUT STATE AND LOCAL PROPERTY THAT IS ACTUALLY FUNDED BY FEDERAL GRANTS AN FEDERAL PROGRAMS SUCH AS THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, LAND WATER CONSERVATION FUND THAT FEDERAL PROGRAM THAT GOES TO STATE AND LOCAL PARKS RECREATION DEPARTMENTS. DOES THAT MEAN THAT THEY THEN HAVE TO FOLLOW THESE ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES? OF COURSE, WE ARE AGAIN COMING FROM THE PERSPECTIVE THAT, YES THEY DO, AND THEY SHOULD, BUT THAT KIND OF CLARIFICATION WOULD HELP.
THERE IS ALSO A SLEW OF MONEY THAT GOES FROM THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION DOWN TO LOCAL AND PARKS RECREATION DEPARTMENTS TO RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAMS TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT PROGRAMS ALL THOSE TYPES OF PROGRAMS, AND YOU THINK ABOUT FEMA, LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON SO THOUGH WE ARE LOCAL AND STATE -- SOME KIND OF CLARIFICATION WOULD BE HELPFUL. THIRD AND FINALLY, IS THAT WE HAD A LONG DEBATE IN OUR WORKING GROUP ABOUT WHAT IS CONSIDERED “NEW” VERSUS WHAT IS CONSIDERED EXISTING AND THERE WAS A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT IF THERE IS A PARK THAT WAS OPERATED BY A LOCAL PARK AND REC DEPARTMENT FOR WHATEVER REASON THEY DECIDE TO SELL IT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SO THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WOULD HAVE TO TAKE OVER THE CONTROL OF THAT. WELL WOULD THAT BE A NEW PARK SITE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, OR WOULD THAT BE CONSIDERED AN EXISTING SITE? SO THAT IS ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS THAT SORT OF KEPT US UP AT NIGHT.
AGAIN, I'M GOING TO TRY TO ORGANIZE MY TESTIMONY TO TRAILS BEACHES PICNIC AND CAMPSITES IN GENERAL LEAVING THE GENERAL AT THE END BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT WE ARE CONTINUING TO STUDY SO. TO START WITH TRAILS. FIRST, QUESTION 1, BASICALLY WE REALLY ARE REQUESTING OF QUESTION 1 THAT WE GET MORE INFORMATION TO SUGGEST ANOTHER APPROACH AND WHETHER ANOTHER APPROACH WOULD BE EFFECTIVE OR MORE FAIR TO ALL INVOLVED. AND ALSO, IT MIGHT BE HELPFUL FOR US TO KNOW HOW MANY NEW TRAILS ARE CREATED ANNUALLY ON FEDERAL LANDS. I KNOW I ACTUALLY WAS TAKING VIGOROUS NOTES WHEN THE WOMAN FROM THE FOREST SERVICE WAS SPEAKING EARLY WHERE THE NUMBER OF THE SCOPE OF THEIR APPLICABILITY.
AND ON QUESTION 2, WE REALLY DO PREFER THAT THE USE OF THE EXISTING TERM “TECHNICALLY INFEASIBLE”. WE DON'T THINK THERE IS A NEED TO ADD ANOTHER TERM TO ANOTHER DEFINITION OF ANOTHER DEFINITION SO WE THINK THAT ACTUALLY USING THE EXISTING “TECHNICALLY INFEASIBLE” AND USING THE PHRASE “COMPLIANCE IS TECHNICALLY INFEASIBLE DUE TO THE TRAIL […], QUESTION 3, I'M NOT GOING TO GO INTO SOME OF THE MORE SPECIFIC DETAILS OF OUR QUESTIONS BUT BASICALLY, WE DO BELIEVE THAT THE INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL OF ACCESSIBILITY IS NOT THE RECOMMENDED SYMBOL TO USE IN DESIGNATING THE TRAILS ACCESSIBLE. IT WOULD JUST BECOME VERY CONFUSING. WE ALSO SUGGEST THE ADDITION OF THE FULL WHEELCHAIR PICTOGRAM THAT ARE DEPICTED IN THE PROPOSED GUIDELINES.
AND ONE OF THE LAST COMMENTS WE HAVE ON QUESTION 3 IS THAT WE REALLY WOULD LOVE TO HAVE SOME KIND OF INDICATION ON THE SIGNS THAT HOW FAR THE DIFFERENCE FROM THE […] OF WHICH THE SIGNIFICANT -- SO BASICALLY SO SOMEONE CAN KNOW HOW FAR THEY CAN GO ON THIS TRAIL BEFORE THEY CAN'T GO ANYMORE. I THINK THAT TYPE OF INFORMATION WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL FOR ACCESSIBILITY.
QUESTION 9 -- RETAINE AND ENHANCE TO REFLECT ALL OF THE CURRENT TOOLS THAT ARE OUT THERE AND HAVE SINCE BEEN DEVELOPED IN THE PAST DECADE ABOUT WAYS TO MEASURE PENETRATION AND WE ALSO SUGGEST THE EXAMPLE IN THE DESCRIPTION TO BE REDESIGNED TO INCLUDE A BULLETED LIST OF EXAMPLES. THOSE BULLETS ARE REALLY GOOD AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND, DESPITE MY POWERPOINT.
QUESTION 19. WE ARE STILL WORKING ON THAT, QUESTION 25, IS ACTUALLY SOME OF THE SIMILAR RESPONSES WE HAD TO AN EARLIER QUESTION, AGAIN THE INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL OF ACCESSIBILITY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE ARE RECOMMENDING.
LET'S SEE. QUESTION 26, WE DO -- WE SUPPORT RETAINING THE APPLICATION OF THE FOUR CONDITIONS FOR THE DEPARTURE, HOWEVER WE DO SUGGEST THAT SURFACE TREATMENTS SUCH AS CRUSHED STONE OR GRAVEL BE INCLUDED TO WARN OF WHAT EXACTLY THE TYPE OF PROTRUSION IS OR WHAT THE HAZARD IS ON THE TRAIL. THAT MIGHT COME INTO PLAY WHEN PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WHEELCHAIRS THAT CAN TRAVERSE CERTAIN TYPES OF TERRAIN BUT PERHAPS NOT OTHERS, TO JUMP INTO BEACH AREAS, BEACH ISSUES, ONE OF THE ANSWERS THAT WE HAVE DEVELOPED SINCE OUR TESTIMONY IN BOULDER WAS THE ISSUE ON THE BEACHES IN THE BOARDWALK AREA. WE BASICALLY CAME TO THE CONCLUSION AFTER A VERY LONG DISCUSSION THAT EXCEPTION NUMBER 6 THIS IS THE 6 INCH EXCEPTION, WE THINK THAT THAT EXCEPTION SHOULD BE ELIMINATED COMPLETELY THAT YOU SHOULD JUST GET RID OF IT BECAUSE IT IS WAY TOO BROAD OF AN EXCEPTION AND DOES NOT PROVIDE ENOUGH SUFFICIENT ACCESS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
QUESTION 5, WE BELIEVE THAT THE BEACH ACCESS ROUTE SHOULD BE WIDER THAN THE 36 INCH THAT IS PROPOSED AND INSTEAD SHOULD BE 48 INCHES. AND WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE RESTING SPACE OF 200 FEET IS AN ACTUAL GOOD MEASURE.
QUESTION 6, WE BELIEVE THAT THE BEACH ACCESS ROUTE SHOULD INDEED CONNECT ALL OF THE FEATURES THAT ARE THERE. WE WOULD ALSO SUGGEST THE ADDITION OF SOME CLARIFICATION LANGUAGE AROUND WHAT TYPE OF THE WATER LEVEL CONDITIONS THAT MIGHT EXIST IN CERTAIN BEACHES DEPENDING ON CLIMATE CHANGES -- THOSE CLIMATE CHANGES COULD ACTUALLY EFFECT A CHANGE IN WHERE THE ACCESS CAN EXIST.
QUESTION 15, CONSTRUCTING BEACH ACCESS, EVERY HALF MILE IS A REASONABLE REQUIREMENT WE BELIEVE.
QUESTION 16 THIS IS A BIG ONE. BUT BASICALLY WE DO BELIEVE WE HAD SOME IDEAS OF MAKING ADDITIONAL EXCEPTIONS, AND THAT WOULD BE TO REALLY LOOK AT THE CONDITIONS THAT EXIST FOR THE CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE AREAS AROUND SUCH AS THE ADDITION OF MUD, SAND, OR SIMILAR WIND OR WATER MATERIALS THAT HAVE BECOME DEPOSITED ON THE ACCESS ROUTE THAT MIGHT MAKE IT NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE. AS WE KNOW THE ROUTES CAN CHANGE WITH THE TIDE SO THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING TO CONSIDER.
THE CHANGES IN THE CONDITION SUCH AS NATURAL STORM DAMAGE, EROSION, AND THE AVERAGE WATER LEVEL DUE TO NATURAL CONDITIONS SUCH AS DROUGHT, AGAIN.
QUESTION 17, THIS WAS ABOUT THE PARKING LOT AREAS AND WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE A BEACH ACCESS ROUTE TO THE PARKING LOT. AND WE CONCLUDED BASED ON SOME OF OUR EARLIER DISCUSSIONS THAT IF A PARKING LOT ACTUALLY HAS SOME TYPE OF AMENITIES AVAILABLE TO IT SUCH AS BATHROOM FACILITIES WE BELIEVE THAT AN ACCESS ROUTE SHOULD BE PROVIDED SO WE THINK THAT THE EXISTENCE OF AMENITIES IS THE TRIGGER TO THE ACCESS ROUTE AND NOT NECESSARILY THE NUMBER OF PARKING SPOTS.
PHILIP PEARCE [BOARD MEMBER]: YOUR TIME IS ABOUT UP.
MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN: SO QUESTION 18 WE ARE ASKING FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION AND I KNEW I WASN'T GOING TO GET TO THE LAST ONES SO I WILL ACTUALLY JUST END THERE, BUT I DO THINK THAT AGAIN, WE WANT TO APPLAUD THE ACCESS BOARD IN PUTTING TOGETHER THESE GUIDELINES AND THE NRPA IS EXCITED TO BE A PART OF THIS PROCESS FROM THE GET-GO, AND THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HELP IN WORK IN DEVELOPING THESE, AGAIN WE NEED YOUR HELP IN FIGURING OUT THE APPLICABILITY TO OUR MEMBERS SO THAT WE CAN MAKE -- THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
PHILIP PEARCE: THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND I ESPECIALLY WANT TO TELL YOU THAT WE APPRECIATE YOU, AND THE NATIONAL RECREATION AND PARK ASSOCIATION TAKING THE TIME TO COMMENT HERE OF COURSE OUR SIMPLE ANSWER IS OF COURSE THEY APPLY TO YOU ACROSS THE BOARD. WE KNOW THAT THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY THE CASE, BUT WE EXPECT THAT IT PROBABLY WILL BE IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE SO WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR INPUT, AND YOUR WILLINGNESS TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS AS WELL. ARE THERE QUESTIONS FROM THE GROUP, GARY TALBOT.
GARY TALBOT [BOARD MEMBER]: THANK YOU, MR. CHAIR, GARY TALBOT, PUBLIC MEMBER. AND I APOLOGIZE, YOU MAY HAVE SAID THIS BUT IN MY SPEED LISTENING, I MAY HAVE MISSED IT, AND DID YOU A REALLY GOOD JOB TRYING TO GET THROUGH EVERYTHING. THE INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL, CAN YOU JUST ELABORATE A LITTLE BIT ON WHY THE COLOR BLUE, WHY YOU WOULDN'T WANT THE COLOR BLUE, I REALIZE THAT IT IS OUTDOORS AND EVERYTHING IS GREEN AND STUFF LIKE THAT BUT JUST FROM A RECOGNIZABLE KIND OF THING, A UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZABLE THING, WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT THAT?
MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN: WELL, I THINK THAT THE INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL CONNOTES SOME TYPE OF ACCESSIBILITY THAT MIGHT NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR SOME OF THE OUTDOOR AREAS THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT, SO I THINK THAT WHEN WE WERE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, PROVIDING AN ALTERNATIVE SYMBOL FOR ACCESSIBILITY, THAT IT WOULD BE THE DISTINGUISHING MARK FOR AN INDIVIDUAL WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT THE INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL MEANS BUT KNOWS THAT, OH, THIS IS SOMETHING A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT. THERE MIGHT NOT BE COMPLETE ACCESSIBILITY ALONG THE WHOLE TRAIL. THERE MIGHT NOT BE COMPLETE ACCESSIBILITY FOR EVERY PICNIC AREA OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, SO IT WAS MORE OF A DISTINGUISHING AND NOT THAT WE DON'T THINK THAT EVERYTHING SHOULD BE ACCESSIBLE, BUT MORE OF JUST THAT SYMBOL CONNOTES MUCH MORE AND MUCH LARGER THAN IS PROBABLY FEASIBLE OF OUTDOOR AREAS.
DAVID PARK [DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR LIAISON TO THE BOARD]: I HAD A QUESTION ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS WITH REGARD TO BEACH ACCESS, AND I WAS PLEASED THAT YOUR COMMITTEE HAD ACTUALLY ADDRESSED THAT, BECAUSE THAT IS AN AREA THAT I THINK THE REGULATORY NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE STRUGGLED A GREAT DEAL WITH. I WAS CURIOUS IF YOUR GROUP HAD HAD ANY COMMENTS AT ALL ABOUT THE REQUIREMENT RELATIVE TO THE EXEMPTION THAT IS IN THERE NOW, FOR REPLENISHMENT AND RENOURISHMENT OF BEACHES SOME OF THOSE ARE HUGELY EXPENSIVE OPERATIONS.
MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN: WE DID AND THANK YOU FOR ASKING THE QUESTION THAT I DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO GET TO. WE DID LOOK AT THAT AND WE DO THINK THAT FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED SOME MORE UNDERSTANDING ABOUT WHAT THE ACCESS BOARD MEANS BY BEACH NOURISHMENT IN THESE GUIDELINES BECAUSE IT IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE FEW TERMS THAT IS NOT PROVIDED IN THE DEFINITION. WHEN WE WERE TALKING TO SOME OF OUR BEACH RECREATION FOLKS THAT THEY WERE SAYING WELL THAT OBVIOUSLY MEANS WHEN YOU HAVE EXISTING, AND YOU NEED TO REPLENISH IT AND BUILD NEW AREAS AND OTHERS WERE SAYING NO THAT IS WHEN YOU HAVE EXISTING AND ONLY ADDING ON TO THE EXISTING AREA SO THERE WAS A BIG DEBATE ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS BUT WE DO THINK THAT YOU KNOW, THAT THE NOURISHMENT ISSUE WHATEVER THE DEFINITION IS, AND HOW EVER IT IS DEFINED, THAT IT NEEDS TO HAVE THE ACCESSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS IN IT, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS CREATING A NEW AREA, FOR EXAMPLE, IF A NOURISHMENT EXPANDS THE BEACH, ANOTHER 100 FEET, WELL THAT 100 FEET SHOULD ALSO NEED TO FOLLOW THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE BEACH ACCESS ROUTES, FOR EXAMPLE. SO THAT WAS ONE OF THE ISSUES WE WERE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT.
DAVID PARK: GOOD, THANK YOU.
PHILIP PEARCE: IS THERE ANYONE ELSE? I HAVE ONE QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU. YOU HAD TALKED ABOUT REALLY SUPPORTING THE IDEA OF DOCUMENTATION, AND I THINK THAT IS A VERY GOOD IDEA. AND I'M PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS IN PARKS. TO WHOM ARE THOSE GOING TO BE -- WOULD THOSE BE INTENDED AND IN OTHER WORDS, I GUESS WHAT I'M DOING IS I'M TRYING TO COMPARE IT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WHERE WE HAVE THE HOLY FATHER IN WASHINGTON LOOKING DOWN YOUR THROAT AND IF THE DOCUMENTATION IS NOT ACCEPTABLE WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ANSWER TO THAT PERSON. WHAT IS THE COUNTERPART TO THAT IN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS?
MONICA HOBBS VINLUAN: WELL WE WERE ACTUALLY CONSIDERING THAT SOME OF THE DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS, IF THIS AGAIN WERE TO FILTER DOWN TO THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVEL, IF THE DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENT WOULD ACTUALLY BECOME PART OF A CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT PLAN OR A PART OF A MASTER PLAN THAT THE ZONING BOARD OR THE CITY COUNCIL HAS TO APPROVE. ARGUABLY IT WOULD BE A DOCUMENTATION THAT WOULD BECOME EVEN MORE PUBLIC TO THE PUBLIC BECAUSE IT IS PART OF THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING AND PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THE TRAIL THAT IS IN THEIR BACKYARD, MAYBE NOT THE TRAIL THAT THEY ARE GOING TO DESTINATION TO OVER THE SUMMER BUT THEY CARE ABOUT THE TRAIL IN THE BACKYARD, SO THEY WILL GO TO A HEAR TO GO TALK ABOUT IT. SO WE THINK THE DOCUMENTATION THAT IS ACTUALLY PART OF THAT MASTER PLAN WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE DISCUSSED AND VOTED ON BY THE CITY COUNCIL WITH THE MAYOR'S APPROVAL AND GUIDANCE, IN SOME JURISDICTIONS IT DIFFERS.
PHILIP PEARCE: OKAY, MISS HOBBS THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND PERHAPS AT THE END OF THE DAY WE WILL HAVE TIME FOR YOU TO CONCLUDE YOUR PRESENTATION, THANK YOU.
[SUBMITTED WRITTEN TESTIMONY]:
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation, and conservation efforts through our network of more than 21,000 citizens and professionals who provide safe and enjoyable recreation to the general public. Access and inclusion is a cornerstone of what we do, and what we help our members do in their communities.
NRPA has been fortunate to have involvement with the Access Board in the process of developing these guidelines. We thank you for your invitations to collaborate and look forward to more work with the Board.
We have appointed a task force to review the NPRM and we will have more lengthy and detailed comments later in your process. Today we would like to make some general points and encourage your work.
We also want to thank you for your continued commitment to developing accessibility guidelines and applaud you for the work that you do.
We know that the Access Board is intending this NPRM to apply to “…outdoor developed areas designed, constructed, or altered by Federal agencies subject to the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968.” However in another place, the NPRM says “The Architectural Barriers Act applies to federally financed facilities.”
We believe that the Access Board intends this guideline apply only to federal agencies and we seek your clarification.
Specifically, we ask that the application of these guidelines to sites financed with grants or funds from federal government agencies, such as FEMA, LAWCON, Transportation funds, Recreation Trails Funding, and other sources, be clarified.
We also seek clarification as to what is considered “new” or “existing” property. If the outdoor developed area was operated by a separate entity and then later sold to the federal government, is that property “new” or “existing”?
We encourage the Board to consider the inclusion of a documentation requirement to direct planners and programmers to detail the process they used for the siting of outdoor developed areas. It would be valuable to understand why planners deviate from the most accessible alternatives and to understand why they invoked the use of an exception.
We also encourage the Board to provide clear language as to the qualities and characteristics of historic sites and protected wilderness areas. Planners need to understand what characteristics make a site eligible for recognition as an historic site.
Park and recreation managers should strive to make as many of their features accessible as is reasonable and feasible to do so. As picnic tables, fire rings, fireplaces, and other outdoor features need to be replaced, due to damage or wear and tear, they should be replaced with the most accessible tables available. Furthermore, all new features should be accessible to utilize economies of scale and to avoid non-compliance in the future.
The approach in the NPRM requires new trails to be accessible, and recognizes conditions that allow for departure from the technical provisions. Right now, we have no information to suggest another approach would be more effective or more fair to all involved. It might help to know the number of new trails created annually on federal lands, as a way to evaluate the other approaches.
Regarding trails, condition 4 described in section T302 on page 34085 permits a trail to deviate from the requirements when “compliance would not be feasible due to terrain or the prevailing construction practices.” The term “not feasible” is defined as something that is not “reasonably do-able”. The Access Board asks whether the word “practicable” should be used here instead or in addition to “not feasible” and “reasonably do-able”. The Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary defines practicable as “…capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished.”
The Board also asks whether more guidance should be provided to land managers and the public, and if so, what type of guidance.
We think the addition of phrases, such as practicable, to this exception is unnecessary. There is no need to add another term and another definition. We prefer the use of the existing term “technically infeasible” and recommend using the phrase “…compliance is technically infeasible due to terrain or prevailing construction practices.”
We agree a sign is necessary and it should reflect the outdoor environment.
Therefore, we suggest using green, not blue, and we prefer the sign on the top row to the left.
The International Symbol of Accessibility is NOT recommended for use in designating a trail as accessible.
We’d also suggest the addition of 4 wheelchair pictograms or icons to the sample sign on page 34134 or the rotation of a person in a wheelchair in the icons with an ambulatory person.
We also prefer the grade profile to the trail profile.
Finally, an important message on these signs is the distance into the trail, from the trailhead, at which the first significant condition arises that permits a departure from the technical provisions. In other words, how far can a person go on this trail before they can’t go anymore?
We believe that exception number 6 of T205.3 should be eliminated completely. Where a route is provided for pedestrian use and constructed from a developed site to, or along the edge of, an existing beach, a beach access route should also be provided. The 6 inch exception is too broad of an exception and would not provide sufficient access for persons with disabilities to get to or enjoy a beach.
We believe the beach access route should be wider than 36” and instead should be 48” wide. Different conditions exist on a beach access route than on a trail; therefore the width should be wider for a beach access route than for a trail. If an individual using a wheelchair somehow leaves the beach access route, they are less likely to be able to maneuver back onto the route by themselves because sand is very difficult to traverse in a mobility device. This is not necessarily true for a trail, which is typically surrounded by solid ground, or at least ground that is more solid than sand.
We suggest that T305.4 should be revised to provide a clear width of beach access routes to be 48 inches minimum.
We believe that the requirement for a passing space every 200 feet is a good measure. Therefore, we suggest that T305.7 remain the same.
We believe the beach access route should connect to other features on the beach, such as concessions, volleyball pits, playgrounds, restrooms, first aid stations, and so forth. Therefore, we suggest that T305.3 be revised to include the requirement that beach access routes connect managed elements and spaces often located on a beach such as beach volleyball courts, first aid stations, beach rental equipment facilities, and concession stands.
We would also suggest that the Board provide a bit more clarification or expansion in the location requirements outlined in T305.3. We want to know if the location of a beach access route should also consider water level conditions that could change depending on climate conditions (such as flooding or drought).
We believe that cooking grills should be fully adjustable and allow for adjustments to be completed with the use of one hand or arm or applicable assistive devices. This would accommodate the largest number of users of all abilities. Grills should be adjustable up to a maximum height of 34” and be no lower than 15” above ground level.
The term “area” needs to be defined. We suggest using the ADVISORY language provided in the boxed text following proposed T206.2.2.
Thus, T206.2.2 should read:
Multiple Picnic Tables. Where two or more fixed picnic tables are provided in a picnic area, at least 50 percent, but never less than two, must comply with T306. An “area” refers to a designated location where picnic related elements are located. Areas may be separated and include different settings on the same site. For example, a picnic area located next to a lake in a park is considered a separate picnic area from a pavilion with numerous picnic tables within the same park. Picnic areas may also be separated and designated by a name or connected to a separate entrance.
We believe this advisory language should be retained but enhanced to reflect current technologies and ways to measure penetration.
We also suggest that the description of T303.3 examples be redesigned to include a bulleted list with examples of common surface types and a spectrum of sieve sizes under each category.
We believe the scoping requirements as proposed are acceptable. We agree that in most cases, 50% of the elements provided should be accessible. Of those elements required to be accessible, 40% are also required to be connected by an outdoor recreation access route.
We believe that the reach range should be a maximum height of 48” and a low of 15” with a 9” low reach for the fire building surface of a fire ring. Concern for safety, both fire and personal, must be reflected in determining adequate reach range.
We would suggest that the same special conditions provided for trails should be provided for alterations and maintenance in beaches, campsites and picnic areas.
We suspect that construction tolerances in outdoor environments should be greater but don’t know how much greater. This is made more difficult because of the reference to industry tolerances, without a definition of those tolerances. We will continue to explore this and would ask that the Board do the same.
We generally believe that all new construction should be accessible. Either by technology or other means, it is feasible that someone with a disability will be able to get to that picnic table and therefore it should be accessible. But we’ll continue to study this.
Constructing a beach access route every ½ mile along a new beach is a reasonable requirement. Therefore, we suggest that that T205.2 remain as it is.
We believe that there are other situations for which site infeasibility would preclude compliance with technical provisions for a beach access route. T205.3 should add another exception for consideration of changes in water levels, conditions, and location due to natural environmental changes.
For example, a beach access route may not be able to be constructed or maintained when natural environmental changes have taken place thereby making it impossible to create a route or to restore an existing route. Such conditions could include:
If a new parking lot is constructed adjoining a beach and that new parking lot includes some type of amenities (such as bathroom facilities), then we believe a beach access route should also be provided. We believe that the existence of amenities with the parking lot should be the trigger for this exception, not the total number of parking spaces that are provided.
We feel that we need further clarification as to what the Board includes when it refers to beach nourishment. If a beach nourishment project incorporates any new beach area, then a beach access route should be required. If a beach nourishment project alters the size or character of the beach, then it should require the creation of a beach access route.
If the definition of beach nourishment includes any type of projects that expands or alters the characteristics of an existing beach, then a beach access route should be required. If this broader definition of beach nourishment is what the Board is utilizing, then exception number 5 in T205.3 should be eliminated completely.
We also suggest adding another exception to the list of exceptions for T205.3 to protect federal land that has been designated as a conservation management area for the protection of Rare, Threatened, or Endangered species. If federal land is being specifically managed for protection of RTE species or has other unique conservation management priorities, then beach access routes should not be required to be constructed over existing or new beaches on lands in this status.
We’ll continue to study this.
We are inclined to treat the Outdoor Recreation Access Routes differently than a trail and therefore not apply any conditions that permit departure from the technical provisions. But we’ll continue to study this.
We’ll continue to study this.
The NPRM requires that a Beach Access Route extend to the high tide level, mean river bed level, or the normal recreation water level. We believe that these markers are appropriate, but would suggest the addition of definitions for these markers in T.305.3. We also suggest the addition of a sentence to this requirement to provide that “The Beach Access Route shall extend to a point at which a user can safely and effectively enter the body of water.”
If an entity decides to provide a route into the water, then this route should follow the requirements already outlined in guidelines created for aquatics and marinas.
Deciding upon which type of technical provisions should be recommended is beyond our expertise; however, controls and operating mechanisms for fireplaces should be as accessible as possible, ideally allowing for one-handed operation.
The International Symbol of Accessibility is NOT recommended for use in designating a trail as accessible.
Page 34131: We recommend top left icon and green in color to designate a trail as an accessible trail.
For additional information on the trail sign, we recommend:
Page 34131: Add wheelchair icon with walker; use grade profile from lower Yosemite design.
We like the elements in both sign examples shown on pages 34134 and 34135. We prefer the general layout on the Happy Falls Trail. Suggest we alternate icons as follows:
Page 34134: Happy Falls Trail
Average Grade: wheelchair icon
Average Cross Slope: Hiker (leave icon as is)
Average Tread Width: wheelchair icon
Trail Surface: Hiker (leave icon as is)
Substitute Grade Profile shown on Lower Yosemite Fall Trail sign for Trail Profile on Happy Falls Trail sign.
Again, we encourage the addition of information to inform the user as to how far they can go on a trail before they cannot go any further.
NPRM T322 establishes criteria for protruding objects, including a minimum 80” head clearance. The regulatory-negotiation committee could not reach agreement to permit a complete departure from this provision if, on a trail, the minimum overhead clearance could not be provided.
We support retaining the application of the 4 conditions for departure with regard to protruding objects. However, we suggest that surface treatments (such as crushed stone or gravel) be included to warn of a protrusion or hazard on a trail.